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September 2002
Dr. Herbert Kielbassa, managing director of the world renowned LABORDATA International Materials Testing Institute, has an unrivalled knowledge of the global FIBC industry. Here he responds to the letterfrom Martin Castle of Pira International which was published in the July/August issue of Industrial Bulk World.

Once more: Third party inspections

My comments in the May / June issue of this magazine generated a reaction which I deliberately set out to provoke. I am pleased with the outcome and hope that this will give rise to broad public discussion between the industry and the competent authorities so that the problem of third party inspections will be brought to the attention of the relevant parties. The problem is that between different countries there is unequal treatment of manufacturers of dangerous goods packaging. The reason for this is that there is a gap in the UN Regulations which has been closed by ADR/RID ...incompletely and ambiguously.

Dear Martin Castle, I did not write any sentence stating that the UN regulations demand third party inspections. Where did you read this? At the moment third party inspections are demanded by the competent authorities only. However, not all of them are doing this, and those who are do not abide by the same rules. It was precisely this situation and its consequences that I tried to stress in my previous comment.

I should like to thank Mr Castle for his letter which gives me the opportunity to explore this subject further. First it must be emphasised that he confirms what I am criticising: "It is left to the competent authority to deal with the interpretation of clause ADR Quality Assurance." However, we are adopting entirely different views in the evaluation of this freedom of interpretation.
Whilst he seems to be very happy about the possibility to interpret the regulations I am complaining that there is no generally applicable and binding regulation regarding the regulatory mechanism which ensures an equal treatment of all the manufacturers. Up till now there has been a chaotic situation in the international market concerning the varying national rules. Martin Castle may forgive me if I take his argument to apply primarily to his area of influence (i.e. the UK). This narrow view is more or less typical to all the competent authorities. The Germans have a different viewpoint from the British, of course the French differ in another way, the Americans do not see things from the same perspective as the Chinese, etc, etc .... But the British, the Germans, the Americans, the Chinese and a hundred others are exporting their dangerous goods packagings to everywhere in the world, and they are importing dangerous goods packagings from everywhere in the world either filled with dangerous goods or empty in preparation to being filled with dangerous goods. Some of this packaging originates from manufacturers which are controlled twice a year, some comes from manufacturers which are controlled once in three years, and some from those subjected to no control at all. The chaos is complete. It is a fact, for example, that an Indian manufacturer of dangerous goods packagings manages to avoid being inspected since he is producing FIBCs, but his neighbour producing the same product in the same town is regularly inspected. This type of unequal treatment is caused by the competent authorities which have issued the approvals for these companies. Nevertheless, the products of both manufacturers are sold and used in all countries around the globe regardless of what the national rules demand in those countries. This means the competent authorities are not even able to ensure within their own country an equal treatment of those manufacturers whose products are in use in the area of their influence.
"Competent authorities interpret the rules in such a way to suit their circumstances." This sentence of Martin Castle hits the point precisely. Each competent authority has laid down its own rules and most of them are not interested in reconciling their ideas and intentions with others. Mr. Castle writes in his letter that he does not accept this statement. It does not matter if he does or not. It is fact. I look forward with interest to learning in what way British ideas and intentions regarding the third party inspections are reconcilable with those of other countries. I hope he will write another letter to explain this.
Because of irreconcilable differences in interpretation and application of the UN Regulations, some years ago a standardisation committee attempted to reach a consensus but failed. The competent authorities defend their national rules and do not realise that these rules are going to be followed ad absurdum by the global market.
I hope that many of my readers will give their opinion on this topic. Perhaps in this way a common set of regulations binding for all will develop and perhaps the majority of the responsible UN Committee in one of the next meetings in Geneva will deal with this subject and arrive at a solution which possibly might deviate from that of my esteemed friend Martin Castle and which will free the competent authorities from the burden of interpreting the UN Regulations.

Comments are welcome and these may be sent by letter to Dr Kielbassa, c/o INDUSTRIAL BULK WORLD, 25 West Cottages, Off West End Lane, London NW6 1RJ, UK. Alternatively, he can be contacted direct (tel: +49 531 33 9011, fax: +49 531 33 9013; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).