View Full Version : Jailed For Sending Chemicals!

8th Jan 2006, 00:42
According to the CAA website, they were destined for Tehran - the sender has been given 12 months.


Final 3 Greens
8th Jan 2006, 07:28
I might be asking how the chemicals were discovered in DXB and not at the port of exit in the UK?

These days, I spend hours queueing at airports in the interests of "security" and then find out that someone appears to have got through with potentially lethal chemicals.

Makes one wonder.

A and C
8th Jan 2006, 08:29
[B]Three Greens

As I understand it these chemicals were sent as cargo but just like you I would like to know how this "cargo" slipped past the all seeing eyes of the airport security industry.

+'ve ROC
8th Jan 2006, 09:58
I'm surprised this hasn't made the mainstream press.

8th Jan 2006, 10:19
It did, if memory serves me right, as a small snippet in the Daily Express during the Christmas period: It appears that the kit was labelled as “laboratory test kit” and only found by the Hash Hounds and Dope Dogs at Dubai before onward shipment.

Can’t understand why the freight forwarders have not also been bought to book?

8th Jan 2006, 13:51
Mary, you obviously dont do much shipping:)
Do you think the forwarder opens EVERY package he ships?
He can only go by the paperwork.
If you follow that line of logic then the loaders and pilots are also to blame:}

8th Jan 2006, 13:54
How can a carrier prevent this? Are they meant to analyse samples of everything they carry beforehand? That might delay shipping for weeks and negate the whole point of air freight. If someone makes a false declaration there isn't a lot the carrier can do about it.

8th Jan 2006, 15:41
Give people some credit:mad: as I understand it, the forwarder has joint legal responsibility for the package content, packaging, customs, value of goods and all other such stuff. The fact that the company exporting the goods, registered as dealing in chemicals, only shipping on an ad-hoc basis and on this occasion to Tehran, then yes, this should have been opened prior to getting air-side.

So, when were the loaders and pilots given this legal responsibility through IATA?

8th Jan 2006, 16:11
I might be asking how the chemicals were discovered in DXB and not at the port of exit in the UK?

These days, I spend hours queueing at airports in the interests of "security" and then find out that someone appears to have got through with potentially lethal chemicals.

Makes one wonder.

Note that the determination of whether chemicals may be legally shipped by air is based on a variety of attributes (for example physical properties such as volatility / flash point, flammability; chemical properties such as corrosivity and toxicity, together with container size).

These are the attributes that might pose a hazard to the aircraft's structure/function or passenger safety, should a container break or spill during transit.

As chemists have been known to put it, "pretty much anything is lethal if the dose is high enough".


8th Jan 2006, 17:49
The freight forwarder is responsible for verifying what the goods are at time of booking, so in theory they are liable for the fine and costs.
However, if it is a container with chemicals in it, and it is declared as holy water (True, happened with a shipment we sent to Kenya once), then the forwarder isnt likely to open it up and have a sniff.

9th Jan 2006, 01:11
As is stated the forwarder has the responsibilty of coding the shipment but can only do this on the basis of the information that the shipper provides him.
The forwarder would not know a uranium isotope from a bar of soap.

You can ship an oxygen cylinder provided it is empty.We remove the valve head to ensure this because it our responsibilty as shipper.
I have had cylinders arrive with the valve head installed so the only way the forwrder would know would be to turn the cylinder on and check the pressure.

Also you may be aware of the furore over oxygen generators. Take a look at IATA dangerous goods and see what is said about those !!
The forwarder is non technical so he can only go by the paperwork and there are many people out there who evade the system.

Also the captain signs to accept hazmat. He can only do this on the paperwork he is given. Again how would the crew know the technicalities

Farmer 1
9th Jan 2006, 07:36
You can ship an oxygen cylinder provided it is empty.We remove the valve head to ensure this because it our responsibilty as shipper.
Surely, you can ship any cylinder provided it is empty?

I once carried some empty gas bottles (in a helicopter, i.e. lowish level), and to prove they were empty, the dispatcher opened the valves. So, off I took, and a couple of minutes later there was a rather strong smell of gas, which had expanded due to the drop in pressure.

I now always make sure the valves are closed, on any cylinder.

You should be able to confirm a cylinder is empty by checking its weight - the empty weight should be stamped on it.

9th Jan 2006, 20:25
agreed but your friendly freight forwarder would not know that ;)
Thats why we remove the valves (:D so we did our bit !)

9th Jan 2006, 21:45
The Freight Forwarder is usually presented with a commercial invoice and packing list. If the goods are regulated, they must be accompanied by an IATA Dangerous Goods Declaration. If the Forwarder handles IATA DG Shipments he/she must have IATA approved training.

Obviously the shipper in this instance must have set out to deceive, and the paperwork he tendered must have deliberately misled the Forwarder, otherwise I'm sure the Forwarder would at least be hit with serious punitive action, or joining the shipper in the slammer.

If the CAA did not take action against the Forwarder, they must be of the opinion he/she is innocent.

10th Jan 2006, 00:08
The issue of freight forwarder responsibility is going to become much more serious. Not just in airfreight, maritime as well. FFs are in competition with each other to book cargo and the very nature of the business is high pressure and little time to screen. New shipper? Hurrah, there's another three tonnes for our monthly balance sheet!

The legal bottom line is that the party shown as shipper on the AWB is responsible. If there really was a FF in this case they should be put out to dry, either by fines, imprisonment or by suspension of trading rights. Draconian, yes, but there's an awfully large grey area and this particular incident is, I'm sure, only the tippetytip of the iceberg.

10th Jan 2006, 00:18
I believe the shipment was:
two drums of Methylhydrazine
one drum of Thionyl Chloride
one drum of Phosphorus Oxychloride

Don't have a Dangerous Goods manual to hand but understand they are all severely corrosive irritants. Little while back three colleagues had to make a rapid exit from their freighter when a container of irritant chemical cracked - fortunately noticed on pushback and not in flight :eek:

10th Jan 2006, 14:46

Methylhydrazine UN1244 Class 6.1, Subs: 3 & 8
Thionyl Chloride UN1836 Class 8
Phosphorus Oxychloride UN 1810 Class 8

All three are "FORBIDDEN" either pax or cargo. Putting any one on board is dangerous, but a cocktail of all three is definitely criminal. He got what he deserved.


I disagree with your opinion on the FF (assuming there was one). If he/she was considered negligent or reckless, the CAA would have dealt with him/her in much the same manner as the shipper.

Freight is either "Known" or "Unknown". If it is known, then it comes through an audited process and should be taken at face value. If it is unknown, then it is security checked (usually x-rayed) before it can be loaded. No Forwarder in his right mind would risk shipping this stuff on any flight.

The FF must have been duped by the shipper. Locking him in jail because he was deceived is not the answer, why not do the same to everyone in the chain who handled the freight up to arrival DXB ??? That would solve it!!

FYI, the AWB is signed by the "Shipper" or his "Agent", the FF is acting as the shippers agent when he/she signs the AWB and is making the declaration on the information that is presented by the shipper. So culpability is a moot point.

Ranger One
10th Jan 2006, 18:18
two drums of Methylhydrazine
one drum of Thionyl Chloride
one drum of Phosphorus Oxychloride

Bloody hell. Ran those past my wife, who at one point was a Ph.D. chemist. Her verdict was 'In an aluminium aircraft? He should have been force-fed them...'


10th Jan 2006, 21:50

Yes, I did say draconian, and yes, I was shooting from the hip with the comment on jailing freight forwarders. I'm sure the CAA went through the entire history of this parcel quite thoroughly and nailed the right culprit. No FF is mentioned in the report.

It would be interesting to learn more about how the actual contents were discovered during transhipment at Dubai and how they got through screening in the UK. Nailing the culprit after the fact is not really good enough, no matter who was responsible for screening.

My comment re this being the tip of an iceberg comes from observing the rapid expansion of freight intermediaries in maritime transport. In my own geographical area FFs, NVOs and other intermediaries actually signing Bills of Lading have doubled their share of export cargoes in the last three years, to just under 30%. In Europe and the US that share is higher and there are new companies joining the fray every day. KN, Panalpina and the other majors may have effective training schemes and screening systems in place but too many of the newbies are pretty hopeless and would not know the difference between a Fiata guideline and a Fiat.

So, as far as FFs and other intermediaries are concerned, I know that an awful lot of unpleasant cargo is getting onto ships and I would wager a case of your favourite tipple the same is happening in air cargo.

At some stage there is going to have to be a crackdown on the intermediaries, and some form of tightening of screening that imposes, yes draconian, penalties on the screeners that let stuff through. Chemicals are a special nightmare; I just checked out the EINECS database, which "contains 100,204 chemical substances".

No I don't know what the solution is but I damn well do know there's a problem. At some stage soon I suspect that "as agent only" signature on the BL or AWB is going to be a lot more serious and binding than it is today.

11th Jan 2006, 10:52
Oooh, now im going to take offence at that. I think you will find that the larger a forwarder is, the more likely they are to miss shipments that are not fully IATA compliant.

Small forwarders tend to have less shipments to process, and are therefore more focussed on the freight that they have. That said, any freight forwarder worth his salt will be able to tell you ten different ways to get round customs and airline issues using pure semantics on the AWB.
I suppose it all comes down to the old adage about terrorism - you will never stop it happening if someone really wants to do it.

11th Jan 2006, 13:56
Daede1, pls don't take offense if the shoe doesn't fit, and I take your point re funny shipments being liable to slip through the larger ffs. And in chemicals there are quite a few very good specialist firms, mostly European. But that's not where the problem lies. I think people like Mr Chandnani (the shipper in question, named in the CAA link) are more likely to go to a small inexperienced consolidator than the KNs, DHLs or the specialist chemical ffs.

You're in the business so I'm sure you are very well aware of how stiff the competition for freight is. And of how that can lead service providers to sometimes cast a blind eye to the cargo's properties.

My bets would be on stiffer and stiffer regulation.

12th Jan 2006, 01:23
Not quite the same topic, but the precient J. Robert Oppenheimer , when asked by a US senator,

"What instrument would you use to detect an atomic bomb hidden somewhere in a city?"

Responded, "A screwdriver [to open each and every crate or suitcase]."

Not sure what year he said it.

12th Jan 2006, 11:30
He won't do all the time as he will get an automatic release date of six months inside. He may serve less if he is considered suitable for "tagging".

The decision lies with HM Prison Service, not the Court.