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Loading, carrying & discharging of Sulphuric acid - regulatory requirements & special handling methods

Loading , carrying at sea & discharging of Sulphuric acid involve high risk and require sophisticated handling for safety, health and loss prevention reasons. They need careful consideration prior loading , tank coating compatibility, cross compatibility with other cargoes carried, environmental controls if required (inerting).

ACID Product Characteristics

Product safety data sheets may be available from various sources. For safety preparation, until the specific product safety data sheet can be obtained, the Chemical Data Guide for Bulk Shipment by Water (U.S. DoT), should be used. Concerning the IBC/BCH code (respective 16.2/5.2) the master should request the specific product safety data sheet before commencement of loading. The safety data sheet posted must be in a language understood by ship's Officers and Crew (English).

Regulatory requirements

Sulphuric Acid is regulated for bulk transportation by the IMO, BCH and IBC codes. Following is the summary of the codes' minimum requirements
  1. UN number : 1830
  2. Pollution category: Y
  3. Hazards Pollution and safety hazard : (S/P)
  4. Ship type : 3
  5. Tank type : Integral gravity tank
  6. Tank vents : Open venting
  7. Tank Environment : No special requirement
  8. Electrical equipment : No special requirement
  9. Gauging : Open
  10. Vapour Detection : No
  11. Fire Protection : No
  12. Material of construction : See special requirements
  13. Respiratory and eye protection : Individual units not required for emergency escape purpose
  14. Special Requirements : See IBC Code: 15.11, 15.16.2, 15.19.6 and the BCH Code: 4.8, 4.15.2, 5.2.7, 5.2.8.

Special arrangements - Sulfuric acid

Ensure that there is on board sufficient acid resistant hoses for the cargo transfer. Ensure that there is on board sufficient acid spray shields to cover flanges on manifold and hose connections according to IBC code 15.11.4 and BCH code 4.8.4.

Preloading precautions & loading sulfuric acid

Preparations for Loading

Discharging Sulfuric acid

Because of the high specific gravity of Sulphuric Acid, very high pump pressure may be experienced. In such cases care must be taken not to quickly open or close valves in the pump system as this causes pressure surges that may rupture lines or hoses

Cleaning and slop

Sulphuric Acid in 30-70% concentrations is non-oxidizing and attacks the steel rapidly, particularly at elevated temperatures. When concentrated Sulphuric Acid is diluted the reaction is exothermic and the temperature of acid will rapidly increase. If the tank is cleaned with inadequate quantities of water, the acid will become hot, as it is diluted, and rapid attack will occur on the stainless steel until sufficient water is introduced.

Large quantities (preferably fresh water) must be put into the tank to rapidly pass the dangerous concentration range and heat increase. Preferably if stainless steel hoses were used on the manifold for discharge should be replaced with non-stainless steel acid resistant hose(s) before the cleaning operation starts.

Cleaning process

Slop disposal and arrangements :

The slops are to be disposed according to: Regulations for control of pollution by noxious liquid substances in bulk, IMO, MARPOL Annex II.

Acid resistance of stainless steel

Due to various resistance of stainless steel materials consult the specific manufacturer's manual/information when necessary.

We have summarized below some of the special chemical cargoes frequently carried onboard chemical tankers

Handling benzene & methanol safety precautions

Handling carcinogens requirements for certain chemical cargoes

Handling ACRYLONITRILE safety precautions

handling ISOCYANATES safety precautions

handling Sulfuric acid safety precautions

handling Phenol safety precautions

Hazards of Phenol - safe handling of Phenol on chemical tankers.

Marine transportation of Phenol and more safety guideline

Handling benzene & methanol safety precautions

Requirements of various grade chemical cargo heating

Following detail pages explain all liquid chemical hazards & precautionary measures while carrying at sea.

  1. Toxicology and associated hazards onboard chemical tankers
  2. Hazards of vapour given off by a flammable liquid while carrying at sea
  3. Reactivity of various noxious liquid chemicals
  4. Most corrosive chemicals carried onboard chemical tankers
  5. What is putrefaction process of liquid chemicals ?
  6. Specific gravity,Vapour pressure and boiling point,Electrostatic charging & measuring Viscosity
  7. General precautions onboard chemical tankers
  8. Mooring precautions onboard chemical tankers
  9. Berth precautions onboard chemical tankers
  10. Cold weather countermeasures, avoiding electric storms
  11. Restriction on using radio equipments and other mobile devices in cargo working areas
  12. Handling precautions for carcinogens or cyanide-like substances
  13. Means of access (gangways or accommodation ladders) safety precautions
  14. Preparations for hot work and safety precautions
  15. Precautions against static electricity

Following reference publications provide useful guidance and international regulations for carrying hazardous chemicals at sea. is merely an informational site about various aspects of chemical tankers and safety tips that may be particular value to those working in: Chemical Handling, Chemical Storage, Liquefied Chemical Suppliers, Chemical Shipping, Chemical Transportation, Chemical Terminals, Bulk Chemical Services and Chemical Processing. If you are interested in finding out more about chemical tanker guideline please visit IMO official website. For any comment please Contact us

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