The Department of Agriculture (DoA) has recently attempted to clarify how consignments should be presented to enable effective offshore and onshore BMSB treatment.

Offshore fumigation and heat treatment providers have been directed to reject consignments that do not comply with the consignment suitability guidelines or face suspension from the approved offshore BMSB treatment providers scheme. Onshore fumigation and heat treatment providers have also been directed to reject consignments that do not comply with the guidelines. If such consignments cannot be adjusted to ensure they are suitable for treatment at the container level, they will be directed for a secure unpack or export.

The key factors that affect the suitability of goods for BMSB treatment at the container level are free air space/load capacity and shipping packing/wrapping applied to goods prior to loading.

Free Air Space / Load Capacity

There must be enough free air space above, in between and around goods within containers to allow for:

• fumigant or heat to reach all external and internal surfaces of the goods accessible to BMSB
• fumigant or heat to be evenly distributed throughout the container
• a fan to be placed in the front of the container to circulate the air (fumigations only), and
• fumigant monitoring tubes or heat treatment temperature sensors to be placed in the required locations.

The free air space / load capacity requirement for effective treatment of a consignment will vary depending on the commodity and the method of packing. As a guide to comply with this requirement, we strongly recommend the consignment is loaded off the container floor on ISPM15 or plastic pallets, having between 30-40cm of free air space between the goods and the container roof and at least 5 cm of separation between pallets to allow the fumigant or heat to be evenly distributed throughout the container.

Additional space above the goods or alongside one container wall will ensure there is enough space for treatment providers to be able to get in, access the rear of the container and place fumigant monitoring tubes or temperature sensors in the required locations. If treatment providers are generally unable to access the rear of the container, BMSB treatment cannot be conducted.

Shipping Packing / Wrapping

Goods must not be wrapped or covered in a way that stops the fumigant or heat from accessing all surfaces of the goods. This includes shipping packing applied after the completion of the manufacturing process and prior to loading such as:

• plastic wrapping applied to ensure stability of palletised goods during shipping
• protective plastic applied to ensure protection of goods during shipping.

To comply with this requirement, we suggest considering the use of materials other than plastic to secure or protect the goods. If this is not possible, we recommend plastic is perforated with 5 or more holes of 5mm diameter for every 100mm x 100mm of surface area or with at least 6 pinholes per 10mm x 10mm surface area. Opening plastic on each side of wrapped pallets with at least 5 or more 15-20cm square holes is also generally acceptable. Where wrapping is applied in multiple layers, the perforations or cuts must penetrate all layers, so they are not blocked by any overlapping wrapping. If treatment providers are unable to access all shipping packing requiring opening, perforation or removal, BMSB treatment cannot be conducted.

Secure Unpack

Where BMSB treatment is not possible at the container level, DoA will permit unpack or reconfiguration of consignments within a secure environment for the purpose of rectifying issues that prevented treatment. Secure environments are DoA approved biosecurity areas that will prevent the escape of BMSB into the Australian environment. There are currently only two departmental approved locations in Australia (one in NSW and one in SA) and costs range in excess of $3000 per 20ft container depending on the scope of work involved. Both locations are experiencing delays of between 6-8 weeks due to the current backlog.

There has been a major shift by onshore treatment providers when assessing consignment suitability for containers requiring BMSB treatment. As a result, we strongly recommend that you communicate the guidelines to your suppliers and adopt a conservative, no-risk approach to avoid untreated containers being directed for secure unpack or export.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your VGL representative if you have any questions.

Leave a comment