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Look out for mercury
Originally published:  01/08/2012
The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department has issued a safety alert to carriers about undeclared mercury shipments. Over the past six months, the Department’s Dangerous Goods Office has been advised of three instances in which consignments of UN 2809 mercury from Hong Kong were found to be leaking on arrival.
All three shipments were consigned to African destinations. They were all consigned as general cargo and declared as ‘Jewellery’, ‘Metal chains’, ‘Metal iron’ or ‘Mould’ on the air waybill. The Bulletin understands that there have been problems before with the shipment of jewellery, consigned under such description, that includes a vial of elemental mercury.
The Dangerous Goods Office is urging all freight forwarders and carriers to exercise extra vigilance when accepting shipments with such descriptions. A leak of mercury aboard an aircraft can have serious consequences, as the substance is extremely corrosive to aluminium.