Emergency response and hazard assessment prevents environmental disaster
SGS was engaged to provide technical support on leaking ethylene isocontainers on a vessel in the port of Darwin.
Within 12 hours an SGS incident manager arrived on site. Upon arrival, the incident manager learnt the containers had been dislodged during a storm in transit and four of the containers carrying liquid cryogenic ethylene were leaking.
The ship was immediately impounded, and directions were given to anchor 5 miles offshore in a safety zone away from Darwin harbour. Close examination of the vessels bill of lading revealed the vessel was also carrying among other cargo, 160 tonnes of flammable solvents, 40 tonnes of jet fuel, two 40ft containers of cryogenic oxygen and several hundred tonnes of copper sulphate.
Immediately testing and monitoring was organised to ensure the explosive limit of ethylene gas had not been reached in any area on-board the vessel. A plan was drafted to remove the undamaged cargo, and this was safely executed over the next ten days by a specialised salvage company.
A second plan was then drafted to remove the leaking containers and place them on a barge. Once this was done, a heat exchanger system was designed and built on the barge to vent the cryogenic ethylene safely over a week. All operations were executed to plan under the direct supervision of SGS’s incident manager.
The whole operation was conducted in maximum safety with no injury to people, wildlife and no harm to the environment.
The Northern Territory Spill Commander from the Department of Lands and Planning later sent a letter of commendation praising SGS for the handling of the incident.