M/V NS Qingdao (formerly Mare Tracer). Credit: MarineTraffic.com/Malcolm Cranfield

Bulk Carrier Spewing Toxic Fumes Moved Offshore in South Africa

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 5343
November 12, 2021

A bulk carrier carrying a chemical cargo has been given the boot from South Africa’s Port of Durban after it began spewing toxic fumes during cargo operations.

The NS Qingdao was discharging at the port earlier this week when its chemical cargo was apparently soaked by rain, causing the cargo to become unstable and release the toxic fumes into the atmosphere. The vessel was evacuated from the port and towed out to sea in order to ventilate its hatches offshore.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) reports that the fumes coming off the vessel do not pose an immediate threat to human health or the marine environment.

“The South African Maritime Authority are (s.i.c) aware of a vessel releasing toxic fumes in St. Helena Bay,” SAMSA said in a statement. “The geared bulk carrier NS Qingdao suffered a chemical reaction after its cargo came into contact with rain water while discharging the cargo in the port of Durban. Concentrated toxic fumes were released into the atmosphere and as a result, the Transnet National Port Authority in consultation with SAMSA, DFFE and other stakeholders decided to evacuate the vessel from the port so that the hatches can be ventilated offshore.”

SAMSA has directed the vessel to sail to a protected anchorage under the escort of the tug. A team of salvors, chemical experts, hazmat teams and other emergency personnel have since boarded the ship to manage the situation.

“The owner is co-operating with the Authorities and has been very proactive to help contain the situation,” SAMSA said.

The agency added that the cargo will be discharged into skips, chemically neutralized and brough ashore at an approved dumping site “in a safe and controlled manner.”

“The vessel poses no immediate threat to the marine environment and humans,” said SAMSA.

NS Qingdao is registered in the Marshall Islands and, as of Friday, it remained at anchor in St. Helena Bay.

Details about what kind of cargo the ship was carrying have not been disclosed.

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