US ports provide weighing update

The Port of Los Angeles, among other US Ports, has provided an update on how it will address the new VGM guidelines. The Port of Los Angeles, among other US Ports, has provided an update on how it will address the new VGM guidelines.

Both Oakland MTO Agreement (OAKMTOA) and West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA) have released an update on how terminals at the Port of Oakland and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach respectively will address the new verified gross mass (VGM) guidelines, which are scheduled to enter into force on July 1, 2016.

While member terminals at the Port of Oakland and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach already weigh trucks arriving with containers, the US Coast Guard will be enforcing the regulation with ocean carriers as well.

According to the OAKMTOA and WCMTAO, the member terminals have notified the USCG and ocean carriers that they will continue to provide Occupational Safety and Health Administration weights to the ocean carriers, which they can use at their discretion. All terminals are ready to safely load the containers when instructed by the ocean carriers.

Individual member terminals at the Port of Oakland and the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, however, will establish and communicate their own policies for receiving containers without a VGM, added the OAKMTOA.

At the same time, the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee has announced a softer stance on enforcement, and agreed to a three-month grace period following confusion over how shippers will comply with the new amendment.

The Committee, during a meeting for its 96th session, said that, in the first few months after July 1 some leeway should be provided to rectify problems resulting from software updates without causing delays to containers being loaded.

In this context, it added that while there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS requirements, it would be beneficial if flag Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing them for a period of three months following July 1.

“This would help ensure that containers that are loaded before July 1, 2016, but transhipped on or after July 1, 2016, reach their final port of discharge without a verified gross mass, and it would provide flexibility to all the stakeholders in containerised transport to refine procedures for documenting, communication and sharing electronic verified gross mass date,” it said.

TT Club’s risk management director Peregrine Storrs-Fox praised the move: “There are no doubt still a number of grey areas. In order to give time for these to be resolved the IMO’s intent is that any party who has done its level best to comply, even if it has not technically fulfilled the letter of the law, may expect to be treated with understanding. Those, however, who have done little or nothing can expect to be penalised.”

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