Port Botany Australia Photo 192992943 Cargo © Max421 Dreamstime.com

As well as large-scale catastrophes ,such as in Vancouver recently, the increasing frequency of freak weather events due to climate change is translating into a  rising level of risk to cargo, says insurer TT Club.

Cargo handling facilities in the tropics well understand the risk of hurricanes and cyclones, for example, but as TT Club MD loss prevention Mike Yarwood explained to The Loadstar, freak weather is starting to affect areas where it has not been anticipated.

“The underlying data shows that those sorts of microbursts of wind and storm surges are happening in less-obvious places, more frequently,” he said.

In Texas, for example, no infrastructure was prepared for this year’s violent cold snap that froze energy grids, cut power to residents and left many stranded without energy, heat or supplies.

A TT Club report released last week shows “isolated severe weather events” are causing ever-greater damage, with some 74% of cases concerning property damage from strong winds and microbursts, and 13% from wet damage, much of this attributed to flooding.

The report found the maritime sector accounted for 65% of reported claims, but Mr. Yarwood said this was not necessarily a matter of ships at sea. He believes terminals not generally exposed to storms do not have a plan for securing their quay cranes, for example.

“A lot of the time the risk lies around the periphery of the maritime mode – ports, quaysides, warehouses. There are practical risk-mitigation steps that can be taken, but it requires risk to be accounted for. A five-stack of containers one deep is more likely to blow over than a pyramid stack, for example – it may take up more space, but will be more secure.”

“In certain locations, you might come to the conclusion that the risk is not that high, but those places are fewer and fewer in number.”

He added: “The vast majority of [maritime] operations will have been conducted with risk assessments of a sort. But these are done every couple of years – and they make very little preparation for events that occur, say, once in 50 years. The message we are trying to convey is that this frequency is coming down.”

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.