mai hien

UNDECLARED DANGEROUS CARGOES BELIEVED TO HAVE CAUSED FIRE, EXPLOSIONS ON KMTC CONTAINERSHIP

Tuesday, 04 June 2019 09:01

Mis-declared chemical cargoes of calcium hypochlorite and chlorinated paraffin wax are believed to have caused a blast and fire onboard a KMTC containership at port in Thailand that resulted in 130 people being taken to hospital. 

The KMTC Hong Kong was alongside at terminal A2 in Thung Sukhla on Saturday morning, Laem Chabang port when a fire erupted at around 6-45am. 

The blaze burned on the vessel until Saturday evening when Thai authorities were able to successfully extinguish the fire. More than 130 people were taken to hospital, some complaining of irritation in the eyes and throat, others of a burning sensation on the skin, although no serious injuries were reported. Nearby communities were also evacuated as ash rained down from the blast. 

Originally the fire was not believed to have been caused by dangerous cargoes, however, inspection of the 35 containers at the centre of the blaze showed more than half contained chemical cargoes, and it is believed these were the cause of the fire and explosions on the KMTC Hong Kong. 

Port Authority of Thailand director Kamolsak Phromprayoon revealed 18 of the boxes contained chemical cargoes local media reported. Investigators found that 13 containers had cargoes of calcium hypochlorite in 13 cargos and five had cargoes of chlorinated paraffin. The shippers had not declared the dangerous cargoes and on Saturday it was believed the cargoes were dolls. 

“Generally, every shipment of toxic chemicals, including transferring of shipment, has to be declared before they enter our ports. But as the ship’s company had not declared these toxic chemicals, it would be the duty of the shipping company to claim the damage from the shipment’s owners,” Kamolsak was quoted as saying by The Nation. 

The mis-declaration of dangerous cargoes, in particular calcium hypochlorite, have been in the spotlight given the number of container cargo fires in recent years that have led to major casualties, including the fatal Maersk Honam blaze last year and the Yantian Express this year.

Some container lines have taken to simply banning the carriage of such dangerous cargoes, however, this does not necessarily solve the problem with shippers simply continuing to mis-declare the dangerous cargoes.