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Author(s): Professor Mike Bradley, University of Greenwich

Catastrophic fires and explosions have happened when transferring or storing flammable liquids and gases, and there is, at most ports, a high level of awareness, training and technical precaution against such incidents.

But how many people know that there is also a high risk of explosion and fire associated with many dry cargoes? More worryingly, how many ports have the same level of training and awareness amongst workers in how to prevent such incidents with dry cargoes?

Biomass is one of the fastest growing bulk shipping sectors, fuelled mainly by wood pellets coming in to Europe to replace some of the coal used by existing power stations. Obviously as a fuel it is combustible; the same can be said for coal, but animal feed, grain, sugar and other organic material can behave in the same way.

A big practical problem with organic dry cargoes is dust; often food, feed and biomass…

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