In a blog post published Wednesday, the South African Maritime Safety Authority announced that there has been a change of plans. This refers to the disposal of the “problematic water-reactive cargo” aboard the bulker NS Qingdao. Instead of lightering, chemical neutralization and shoreside burial, it is being dumped into the sea.
In October, the NS Qingdao was ordered away from the Port of Durban. This was done after she began to emit large quantities of “toxic fumes” from her holds. Samsa ordered the vessel to depart and head for a safe anchorage, and under escort, she headed for St. Helena Bay – some 850 nautical miles away on the Atlantic coast of South Africa – so that she could ventilate her hatches offshore. She carried “a full team of salvors, chemical experts, hazmat teams and other emergency personnel on board” manage the risk, according to SAMSA COO Capt. Vernon Keller.
At the time, Capt. Keller said that the salvage plan called for the vessel to discharge her reactive cargo into skips. From there, would then be chemically neutralized and landed ashore at an approved dumping site for final disposal.
Under the new salvage plan, 1,500 tonnes of the ship’s cargo are being dumped into the sea. A trackhoe has been delivered to the ship and lowered into the hold to facilitate removal, and the work is already well under way.