- Are there any special stowage examination procedures for containers?
Answer: Follow the guidelines set forth in FGIS Directive 9180.48. In general, the stowage area must comply with the standards of fitness established in the directive to be considered clean, dry, free of infestation, rodents, toxic substances, and foreign odor; and suitable to store or carry bulk or sacked grain, rice, beans, peas, lentils, or processed commodities. The stowage area, including hatch covers and other openings, must not have holes, cracks, or any other condition that could cause a change in the weight or condition of the commodity. Examine the inside and outside of the container for all conditions listed in Section 7, Standards of Fitness. Containers must be placed on the ground and positioned so that official personnel have sufficient space to walk between adjacent containers. Use a safe, stable ladder to examine suspect conditions beyond the inspector’s reach. DO NOT CLIMB ONTO THE ROOF OF THE CONTAINER. Applicants must offer containers in a manner that will accommodate full examination or the request for service will be denied. When examining the inside of the container, check for penetrating light to ensure that the container is free from small holes, cracks, separated floorboards, loose or missing fasteners, or other similar defects that could expose the product to damaging conditions (e.g., rain). Cracks or holes in the roof, doors, or side panels must be satisfactorily repaired by welding or permanently affixing a patch of like material (e.g., steel, aluminum, fiberglass) to the affected area. Temporary repairs, including the use of tar tape, are unacceptable. Also, examine the door gaskets, panels, and hinges to ensure that the doors provide for a light/water tight seal when closed. Enter the container, close the doors, and then examine the closure from the inside to see if there is any penetrating light.
- Is a stowage exam always required for container inspection and weighing service?
Answer: Sections 800.75(f) and (j) of the regulations under the USGSA require that a prior-to-loading stowage examination be performed when an export or outbound domestic lot of grain is officially sampled and inspected at the time of loading, when an outbound lot of grain in a land carrier is officially weighed, or when an official check-loading service is requested. When a stowage examination is required by the USGSA (prior-to-loading stowage examination), official personnel shall withhold official inspection, weighing, or check loading service until the stowage area has been examined and declared fit.
- Is a stowage exam necessary for containers that will be probe sampled for inspection purposes?
Answer: Stowage is required if official inspection personnel are present when the container is loaded. If inspection personnel arrive after loading has been completed then a stowage exam is not required. However, the official work record and certificate shall show the statement “Stowage area not examined.” If official weighing services are also performed on the container then a stowage exam is mandatory.
- The shipper is concerned about containers that arrive at the loading facility that are not suitable to carry grain because of issues with the standards of cleanliness. Can we perform stowage exams at a container yard and certify whether they are suitable to carry grain?
Answer: Yes. Consider this a service-on-request (permissive type) stowage exam. However, if a service-on-request exam is performed a prior-to-loading exam must also be performed.
- An applicant has a special request for lining containers with plastic type material. Is this allowed? If so, do we perform the stowage exam before or after the lining material is in place?
Answer: Yes, a plastic liner may be installed prior to loading. The stowage exam must be performed prior to the installation of the material. The normal standards of fitness are applicable to the empty container.
- Can a shipper use cardboard to cover up oil residues that are left on container floorboards?
Answer: No, any type of residues in the container stowage area must be cleaned and dried before the stowage area is approved.
- A shipper is requesting official sampling and weighing of containerized grain and is concerned about the number of containers that are rejected at the loading site because of oil residues, penetrating light, etc. Can the shipper request a waiver for the stowage exam?
Answer: No, Section 800.75 (f)(2) of the regulation states that “approval of the stowage space is required for official sample-lot inspection services on all export lots of grain and all official sample-lot inspection services performed on outbound domestic lots of grain which are sampled and inspected at the time of loading. Also, approval of the stowage space is required for any weighing services performed on all outbound land carriers.”
- Which container identification number should be placed on the Stowage Exam Worksheet and/or Certificate if there is more than one?
Answer: If the container identification number is in question, check with the applicant or representative to determine the true identification number of the container (usually found on the bill of lading). If there is no true identification number determined, use the one displayed on the rear door of the container.
- Is it acceptable to caulk the seam where the wood floor meets the metal interior wall?
Answer: Yes, caulk may be used as preventive maintenance where the wall meets the floor inside the container. It may not be used to cover up rotted areas of floor boards, or conceal any other inferior condition. As long as the container is clean, dry, and free of insect infestation, caulk may be used where the floor meets the wall.
- Is it acceptable to use an epoxy product (e.g. JB Weld) to repair cracks or holes in the metal doors, side panels, and roof of container?
Answer: Yes, however the crack or hole must be ¼” or smaller. Defects larger than this must be repaired with like material.
- If a container is turned down due to oil spots or stains on the plywood floor, is it acceptable for the applicant to put down a new floor on top of the old floor?
Answer: Yes, it is acceptable for the applicant to install new permanent floorboards over the stained floor.