No VGM, no admittance at Port of Houston

Port of Houston will deny access to its terminals for containers that arrive without electronic documentation of their verified gross mass after a new International Maritime Organization container weight ruletakes effect on July 1. The port, which handles two-thirds of the container volume on the U.S. Gulf Coast, joined ports in Virginia and Savannah in declining to provide on-terminal weighing to comply with the new rule.

Ports and terminals are taking a variety of approaches to comply with the amendments to the IMO’s Safety of Life at Sea Act. The SOLAS rules were enacted to curb misdeclared container weights, which have been cited as a hazard to ships and their crews and have been implicated in accidents and sinkings.

The Port of Houston said that it will collect VGMs via electronic data interchange from the ocean carrier. Containers will be required to have a VGM certification on file before the port accepts a container at its terminals.

Port officials say they want to comply with the VGM regulations while keeping terminal operations fluid. Holding areas will be designated for trucks arriving without a VGM on file.

“The port authority will continue to work with various stakeholders and partners to ensure compliance and an uninterrupted flow of cargo,” the port authority said in a statement.

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