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Understanding chemical pollution at sea (HNS)

To learn and understand all about current knowledge in terms of response to chemical spills at sea, we propose you a learning guide with two posters and a dedicated website.

In the field of accidental marine pollution, oil spills bask in the limelight of media coverage due to their spectacular crowd-pulling nature. However, another threat is just as much of a reality: that of the dangers generated by chemical shipping.
Today, the chemical industry is at the heart of the global economy and requires major flows of goods from production sites to consumption areas. Some 37 million chemicals are used by the world’s population and 2,000 are regularly transported by sea. The volumes shipped are currently on the rise, with maritime chemical transport having more than tripled in the past 20 years.
The risks have become increasingly acute, in particular due to the growing number of ultra-large ships together with the high intensity imposed by global market pressure. The threat of a chemical spill at sea concerns many public and private interest groups as the pollution caused is often invisible and may appear difficult to manage.
Transport Canada is aware of this issue and strives to ensure more efficient, safer and more sustainable maritime transport through its Marine Safety Directorate. In order to improve maritime safety, Transport Canada works in cooperation with various foreign experts, including the French Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution (Cedre).


Learning guide

This document is made up of a 93-page book and 2 posters. Available on request, free of charge, at or for download application/pdf Understanding chemical pollution at sea:





- Chemicals:

Chemistry and industry. Production. Classification. Examples of chemicals. Labelling. Material safety data sheets

- Shipping:

Concept of HNS. Shipping routes. Port organization. Ship types. Substances transported

- Sources of pollution:

Chronic pollution. Accidental pollution. Substances spilt. Reactivity = danger. Behaviour

- Prevention and preparedness:                                                                    

Organizational framework. Contingency planning. Operator training. Protective. Ship inspection

- Spill response:

General methodology. Situation assessment. Decision-making. Emergency measures. Response to bulk cargoes. Response to containers and packages. Waste management

- Impact:

Health impact. Environmental impact. Economic impact


Two posters : 

"application/pdf Chemical incidents illustrating examples of different types of cargoes"

 "application/pdf Response techniques in case of chemical spills at sea"




On learning website

Our website devoted to oil spills provides additional information, videos, animations and a quiz, to understand all about:

- chemicals: chemistry and ndustry, production, classification, examples of chemicals, labelling, safty data sheets ;

- shipping: concept of HNS, shipping routes, port organization, ship types, substances transported, regulations ;

- sources of pollution: chronic pollution, accidental pollution, substances spilt, danger of reactivity, bahaviour ;

- prevention and preparedness: organizational framework, contingency planning, operator training, protective equipment, ship inspection ;

- spill response: general methodology, situation assessment, decision-making, emergency measures, bulk cargoes onboard, bulk cargoes released, response to containers and packages, waste management ;

- impact: health impact, environmental impact, economic impact.


A quizz to test your knowledge

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