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We’ll meet again – Hazardous Cargo Bulletin

July 1 / 2017    12:00 pm


When Reg Lee, president of the Asian Tank Container Organisation (ITCO) was re-elected to his old post of president of the International Tank Container Organisation (ITCO) at the start of 2017, he stated that his aim during his two-year tenure would be to bring the two bodies together under one secretariat.

That process is now well under way but it should not be thought that ITCO will merely be subsumed under the larger and older organisation. Lee is quite clear that ITCO has an important role to play, not least through its management of the Depot Audit Scheme that has done so much in just a few years to improve standards in tank cleaning and repair in Asia.

At the same time, it is clear that there is no need for a similar scheme in Europe, where tank container depots are covered by the European Chemical Industry Council’s (Cefic) Safety and Quality Assessment Scheme (SQAS).

But ITCO offers more than just depot audits: it has a wide-ranging role in promoting tank container use in the developing markets in Asia and in encouraging a more professional and pro-active approach to safety in the use of tank containers, not least in China.


That mission was on display at ITCO’s latest general meeting, which took place on 14 June 2017 at the Amara Hotel in Singapore and drew a crowd of nearly 100 eager attendees. Lee explained the changes that the organisation is going through and told members that a reduced membership fee will be charged for 2017, with all members given the opportunity to join the combined organisation as from 1 January 2018. Those who take up the offer to transfer only have to advise the ITCO secretariat by the end of December 2017.

The meeting also provided the opportunity for the presentation of the latest @tco Depot Plaque, which was handed over to Geskanok Chuemahawan, executive director of Premier Depot Solutions of Bangkok, Thailand, after the facility had undergone a successful audit. This is the 17th third-party facility to have done so, and the second in Thailand. Another nine sites, all owned by joint ventures involving Stolt Tank Containers, have also been successfully audited.


The list of speakers at the June meeting illustrated a number of the topics of particular interest to tank container operators and users in the Asia-Pacific region. Teo Lek Hong, now retired from his position as plant manager for Infineum in Singapore, explained how the company moved its whole liquid supply chain from parcel tankers to tank containers over a period of years. There are in-plant efficiencies and important safety improvements that resulted from the switch, he explained.

Graham Wood, managing director of Davlis Limited and technical director of @tco, gave a resounding warning about the use of flexitanks as an alternative to tank containers. He highlighted a recent incident in Switzerland in which the entire contents of the bag were lost. Shippers that do use ‘plastic bags’ should ensure that the bag is properly secured within the container before loading.

Wood also announced that he will remain in his role as manager of the ITCO Depot Audit Scheme until the end of 2018, giving time for a smooth transition.

After a short break, delegates were treated to a glimpse of the future in a presentation by Fong Kum, honorary vice-president and senior consultant at Global Maritime & Port Services Pte Ltd. Singapore, short of space for industrial expansion, is planning a major new land reclamation project that will allow development of a fully automated port. The project, due to be completed in around ten years’ time, will result in a port and terminal handling facility where no human intervention is required – a scary thought for some, perhaps, but something that we will all have to get used to in all areas of life.


Graham Wood and Reg Lee also gave an update on the development of the ITCO e-learning programme, which was due for a review in July with the aim of having a final version ready by the end of August 2017. Members should wait until this update is finalised before buying a copy.

The ITCO e-learning course, prepared in collaboration with Exis Technologies, provides guidance on the safe and competent operation of tank containers, including background information on the tank container industry, tank components tank and their use, relevant regulations (particularly the IMDG Code), tank operations and depot services. Those who complete the course should have a comprehensive awareness of tank containers and be equipped to contribute to their safe and efficient use. As a final treat for delegates, Andrew Bishop, sales director of Fort Vale Engineering, gave an amusing but informative presentation on the history of the company and the role that its founder, Ted Fort, has played in developing the tank container over the past 50 years. Fort Vale kindly dipped its hands in its pockets and laid on a buffet dinner for all ITCO members and their guests.

While they were in Singapore, Reg Lee and Graham Wood took the opportunity to meet the Singapore Civil Defence Force, which has the first responder role in the island nation. They were able to start a dialogue that will help the Force respond more effectively to any incident involving a tank container, and arranged for a tank to be donated to help in training exercises. ITCO will also generate some scenarios to be used in training.

ITCO’s final general meeting before the formal merger with ITCO will take place in Shanghai on 15 November 2017; more details on this event and on the ITCO Depot Audit Scheme can be found on the ITCO website,

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