Shipping lines are being asked to take particular notice of the dangers involved in the carriage of calcium hypochlorite, commonly used for water purification, particular when the substance is being transported from China. A series of serious explosions and fires have occurred on board container ships in recent months, each believed to come from the substance when it has become overheated.
The most recent explosion occurred on the new 4,300 teu containership, Hanjin Pennsylvania, off the coast of Sri Lanka in mid-November. Two crew members died and the ship is being considered a total loss.
Calcium hypochlorite is mainly exported from China, India and the US, with Europe being the top importer. All the known incidents caused by explosions in the cargo have come from containers loaded with China exported cargo.