Killer whales and IMDG Code

One may wonder what is the relationship between Killer Whales and IMDG Code.

Death of killer whale Lulu, last year, shocked the scientific community due to high concentration of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB). The level of contamination in Lulu was 20 times higher than the safe level making her the most contaminated animal on earth.

What are PCBs?

Polychlorinated biphenyls were mainly used as coolant and dielectric in electrical apparatus such as transformers, capacitors, insulators, television sets, refrigerators.  In the late 1960s about 500 people died in Japan due to consumption of rice bran oil contaminated with PCB. Due to PCBs nature of toxicity to environment and a persistent organic pollutant Stockholm Convention banned PCB in 2001.

Regulatory Frameworks

PCBs are controlled under these three international conventions

  1. Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal
  2. Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
  3. Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants

In Basel Convention Categories Of Wastes To Be Controlled, Annex I, PCB is listed as “Waste substances and articles containing or contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and/or polychlorinated terphenyls (PCTs) and/or polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs)”


Annex III of MARPOL contains requirements for carriage of marine pollutants which includes packing, marking, labelling, documentation, stowage onboard vessels.


IMDG Code identifies marine pollutants with a symbol “P” in column 4 of dangerous goods list in chapter 3.2. Additionally, certain marine pollutants are identified only in the alphabetical index of IMDG Code. These are those marine pollutants which has not been assigned to an N.O.S. or generic entry.

There are specific requirements for marking of packages and cargo transport units containing marine pollutants with marine pollutant marks. Additionally packages may need to be marked with chemical name of the constituent which most predominantly contributes to the classification as marine pollutant.

Read more about compliance requirement of transporting marine pollutants in packaged form by clicking here

This is how IMDG Code protects killer whales and marine environment through mandatory laws.

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