Unauthorised Waste Caused Serious Explosion on Ship

A report provided by U. K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch on 2 detonation of gas liberated from unprocessed furnace cargo bottom ash on Nortader.

The 1st explosion was in forecastle store and another was in cargo hold. The chief engineer, in the forecastle store working on emergency fire pump suffered through burns and needs 4 months to recover. The vessel suffered extensive damage keeping it out of service for more than 3 months. Ignition of hydrogen gas released from cargo caused the explosion as per investigation done by MAIB. Before this incident, there were 34 same shipments of furnace bottom ash to Netherland, from Plymouth. Despite of not listing it in the International Maritime Solid Bulk Cargoes Code, nothing was done to get approval from capable authorities for their carriage. Further, the investigation found that testing protocols in place of measuring the waste, capable of generating flammable gases were inadequate and inappropriate.

The cargo released from Nortrader included things, for example, unburnt paper, household gas cylinders & wheels from engine vehicles. The prevalent source of hydrogen manufacturing is accepted to be the response of natural aluminum with water in antacid conditions. Different metals, for example, iron, nickel and copper can likewise create hydrogen, however their contribution is too much less when compared with aluminum.

The inclination of hydrogen to make a dangerous mixture with air over a wide scope of concentration, and the capacity to weaken ignite this source to touch off this blend, led to the previous blast. The explosion source for hydrogen air blended was destined to have electrical spinning between contactors in switch outfit in the crisis tire pump starter board when the main designer halted the pump.

Some conditions caused for the explosion are,

  • Presence of 2.5 % non-ferrous metals compressing aluminium, the alkalinity of cargo and a grown moisture content owing to heavy rain while loading resulted into generation of hydrogen.
  • The 19 hours spent at anchor permitted to the generation of hydrogen to accumulate in the unventilated cargo hold.
  • The unsealed and unsecured cargo hold lamp access cover in the forecastle store permitted hydrogen gas to entre forecastle store.
  • The closed access doors and vents of the forecastle store permitted hydrogen to collect in the store.
  • The broken lug of emergency fire pump starter panel door permitted the collected hydrogen to enter the circuit breaker’s space.
  • The Coastguard Agency and Maritime has set up tripartite agreement between the Netherlands, U.K. and some other administrations for safe deportment of incinerator bottom ash and put forward its presence in the IMSBC Code.

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Nikhil Kaitwade

With over 8 years of experience in market research and consulting industry, Nikhil has worked on more than 250 research assignments pertaining to chemicals, materials and energy sector. He has worked directly with about 35 reputed companies as lead consultant for plant expansion, product positioning, capacity factor analysis, new market/segment exploration, export market opportunity evaluation and sourcing strategies.