A recent incident, as reported by one of the Club's surveyors in Dubai, UAE, has given rise for concern.
The ship, a bulk carrier, arrived in Jebel Ali from Chile with bundles of sawn soft timber in five holds. The timber had been treated during processing with pentachlorophenol. Part of the cargo was discharged in Jeddah without incident. The holds were not ventilated on either leg - Chile to Jeddah or Jeddah to Jebel Ali.
On arrival at Jebel Ali hatches were opened and stevedores entered the holds through the access openings. A total of six stevedores in three of the holds were overcome as a result of the shortage of oxygen in the lowest parts of the holds but five fortunately managed to escape or were helped out. Sadly one did not. He fell off a ladder onto the tank top and died.
Meter readings showed oxygen levels as low as 1% in the lowest of the stows.
Investigations have not as yet produced any satisfactory answers as to whether the accident was caused by the depletion of oxygen, or whether it was something to do with the pentachlorophenol.
We are looking further into the matter and if any Members have any experience of this their comments/advice would be greatly appreciated.
In the meantime we would recommend as much ventilation as possible be given to this type of cargo with this type of treatment before allowing stevedore/crew entry into the holds.
Source of information:
Duncan Waller Marine Consultants
Tel: +971 4 310 860
Fax: +971 4 310 832
Through Karl Lumbers