Conduct Your Risk Assessments: CO2 Systems Leak

Confirmed by ABS & Italian Coastguard

Gaseous Systems Leak: confirmed in recent communications from American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and the Italian Coastguard.

In July 2018, the ABS released advice that there have been multiple cases  reported in which CO2 cylinders in fixed fire systems have been found empty. Because of this, ABS have recommended that all shipowners need to conduct a risk assessment of their CO2 systems.

As per the Ministero delle Infrastrutture e dei Trasporti, The Italian Coastguard in a communication to its members: “In consideration of the need to ensure the continuous functionality of the aforementioned fixed fire protection system and to prevent an unexpected release of CO2 into the work environment, it is established that - as of the date of receipt of this Circular - these companies perform, for the units managed with the aforementioned plant, a specific and documented risk assessment, aimed at outlining any necessary measures to protect workers' health and safety.” (translated from Italian).

Why do they leak?

A ship’s gaseous extinguishing system typically comprises between 200 and 600 cylinders each containing 45KG of CO2 under high 720 psi/ 49 bar pressure.

Because gaseous extinguishing systems are highly pressurised, the risk of leaking and discharging is accepted as part of their use and this is shown in the regulations that demand their upkeep.

IMO SOLAS & FSS Code Chapter - “Means shall be provided for the crew to safely check the quantity of the fire extinguishing medium in the containers.”

Some marine service companies estimate that 20% of a ship’s CO2 cylinders have discharged or partially leaked their contents at some point in their lifetime also know that occasionally marine “servicing companies” unintentionally leave it disabled.

What is the solution?

Using an ultrasonic liquid level indicator is the only way that the crew can safely test their CO2 without disturbing them. Coltraco Ultrasonics designed

the ABS Type Approved Portalevel® MAX Marine & Portamarine® ultrasonic liquid level indicators, as radioactive units were being phased out. The Portalevel® MAX MARINE allows crew to implement IMO SOLAS FSS codes by testing safely and quickly (just 30-60 seconds per cylinder).

The Portalevel® MAX Marine allows the crew to be in charge of checking the CO2 systems, as many times as needed: ensuring that the systems will be working when they are needed.

ABS Type Approved Portalevel® MAX Marine is designed primarily for the vessels’ crew to inspect large CO2 & marine CO2 systems of up to 600 cylinders.

  • The ease of operation in comparison to weighing, increases the ability of more regular and frequent checks, improving fire safety management onboard.
  • Coltraco’s innovative method of inspecting leaking cylinders with ultrasonics, enables identification in under 30 seconds using Portalevel® with one person, instead of the traditional 15 minutes, with two people laboriously weighing.

Combined with the MAX Marine, The Portasteele® Calculator is an advanced  application, that converts the liquid level height of C02, NOVEC™ 1230 and FM-200® liquefied gaseous extinguishant agent readings taken on a Portalevel® device into the agent weight/mass.  The Portasteele® CALCULATOR can convert an expected agent weight back to the required liquid level allowing users to anticipate where the level should be.

As advised by ABS and Italian Coastguard, it’s time to conduct your risk assessment and start maintaining your CO2 systems. Choose the quickest, easiest and effective way to maintain your CO2 systems: The Portalevel® MAX Marine and Portasteele® CALCULATOR.

Coltraco Ultrasonics’ mission delivering Safeship® solutions to improve safety of life, assets and vessels at sea. They do by manufacturing high quality British instrumentation, supplied to over 100 countries worldwide, since 1987.

Discover more about Coltraco Ultrasonics’ commitment to customer care and safety on

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