Contamination. If a cargo which is sensitive for some reason is damaged by the nature of another cargo or substance, the former is “contaminated”. This would be the situation if one grade of oil, e.g., a clean oil product on board a tanker, was loaded into a tank that was insufficiently cleaned.
The refined oil would be sensitive to contamination. Contamination of oil cargoes can also occur if more than one grade of oil is being carried in different tanks and the valves and/or pipelines between tanks leak. In oil tankers that carry oil it is customary to have at least a two-valve separation between grades to avoid this damage which can lead to very large cargo claims on the owner or operator of the tanker.
In dry cargo ships contamination can occur also between cargoes and also from fumes and other noxious gases from the machinery spaces if the cargo is not properly stowed and adequate ventilation not carried out. Under the obligations for the carriage of goods by sea, the carrier must care for the cargo on passage. Therefore, permitting cargo to become contaminated would be a breach of this obligation and can lead to very heavy claims.