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USCG Safety Alert - Wood Pellet Fire Hazard - Risk Alert 101

SSM Roundel

Steamship Mutual

Published: November 30, 2023

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) Inspection and Compliance Directorate has recently issued Marine Safety Alert 10-23 following two instances of fires resulting from spontaneous combustion on unmanned barges carrying wood pellets that contained binders.

Image: Credit to USCG

Wood Pellets Fire

The USCG strongly recommends that shippers of wood pellet cargoes and owners and operators of hopper barges carrying wood pellet cargo:

  1. Take steps to isolate cargo from external moisture sources, including ceasing cargo operations during inclement weather and maintaining hopper covers to prevent rain ingress during transport.
  2. Conduct routine temperature readings to detect early-stage cargo decomposition.
  3. Ensure personnel conduct frequent rounds to identify signs of smouldering. 

The Club’s Members are advised that, whilst this safety alert is specifically referencing unmanned barges, the recommendations highlighted above are applicable to the carriage of wood pellets on any vessel. The Marine Safety Alert can be downloaded here

For further information on this or other Loss Prevention topics please contact the Loss Prevention Department, Steamship Insurance Management Services Ltd. Tel: +44 20 7247 5490; Email: [email protected]

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November 2023

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