All classes of coal are liable to spontaneous combustion, the softer types to a greater extent than others, and therefore adequate ventilation of holds is essential to minimize this risk. If damaged by heating or combustion, the damaged portion should be separated as soon as possible from the sound portion, to prevent further spread of the damage. Coal shipped in a wet condition may be subject to a loss in weight by evaporation, but the comparison of analyses taken prior to loading and after delivery can determine to a large extent the approximate loss in weight. It must be borne in mind, however, that the loading or discharge of coal in rain can result in an increase in discharge weight over shipped weight. Some classes of coal, especially the gas type, suffer deterioration or depreciation by contact with salt water, but are hardly if ever affected by contact with fresh water. A certain normal loss is to be expected through the operation of loading and discharge. This loss can be ascertained by a comparison with the average loss on delivery which is normally found. Particular care should be exercised in arriving at depreciation or loss arising out of heat, fire or water damage. In the case of heat and fire, the first effect of this would be a loss of calorific value, to determine which the assistance of an analyst or chemical consultant is essential.
In dealing with loss or damage to this commodity too much reliance should not be placed on tallies or casual tests, and agreement should only be reached after proper analysis.
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