Problematic toxic cargo headed for the bottom of the sea, announces SAMSA

Photo courtesy of Dr Holling

UPDATE:

Pretoria: 17 January 2022

The story below has elicited huge interest from a broad range of people across several sectors. Top most has been concern about the decision to dump the cargo of the vessel at sea, as annouced in the article. In response, SAMSA’s Deputy Chief Operations Officer, and acting Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller has since provided more detail about the development during a radio interview with Cape Talk Radio last week.

Click on the following link for the interview (+- 6 minutes).

Pretoria: 13 January 2022

A problematic water reactive cargo approximating 1500 tonnes laden on a vessel in St Helena Bay on the west coast of South Africa will be formally, finally dumped at sea; the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) announced in Pretoria on Thursday.

According to SAMSA, this will be just over two months of the country working tirelessly around the clock to safely manage the unstable chemical cargo since the encounter with its bearer vessel, the NS Qingdao, in Durban last October.

Since then, the vessel was shepherded under a watchful eye to a safe containment terminal in St Helena Bay on the Atlantic Ocean seaboard.

In subsequent updates about the management of the vessel, SAMSA described its cargo as consisting of “a mixture of Sodium Metabisulphite, Magnesium Nitrate Hexahydrate, Caustic Calcined Magnesite, Electrode Paste, Monoammonium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate, Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Sodium Sulphite Anhydrous and Calcium Chloride.”

On Thursday, in the statement in Pretoria announcing the latest development; SAMSA said: “SAMSA and its partners are continuing with the salvage work on the NS Qingdao. The NS Qingdao was evacuated from the port of Durban on 23 October last year after her cargo suffered a chemical reaction and released toxic fumes into the atmosphere.

“The vessel is currently anchored off St Helena Bay and an emergency dumping permit has been obtained from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to dump the reacting cargo at sea.

“Approximately 1500 tonnes of cargo will be dumped 250km from the closest point to land and in excess of 3000m of water. The dumping operation is expected to be concluded on 25 March 2022.

“To date more than 1000 tonnes of the cargo has been taken out of the vessel and it is expected that the remaining hotspots will be removed and dumped by 15 March 2022.

“The vessel has no obvious structural damage, and she will return to the closest port after the dumping operation is complete and her cargo is stabilised. An investigation will also be conducted to determine the reason for the cargo reaction .

“Structural specialists will also conduct an assessment to ensure that the integrity of the vessel is intact before allowing her to sail onward to her destination.

“The tug Umkhuseli continues to act as a safety stand by vessel. The operation is weather dependent to ensure that the highest levels of safety standards are maintained throughout the operation.

“The owners, insurance and salvors continue to work with the South African authorities on this matter,” said SAMSA

End

11 thoughts on “Problematic toxic cargo headed for the bottom of the sea, announces SAMSA

  1. Will there be any short or long term Environmental affect from dumping chemicals into our oceans?
    Is this the best method to attend to the problem?
    Will we be dealing with future events in the same manner

  2. What are the terms of dumping considering the long term environmental implication;
    Was the site inspected and analysed for the storage of these chemicals
    Were technology was used, e.g. sequestration,etc?
    How often is the site to be inspected and at what cost and who will finance

  3. What are the terms of dumping considering the long term environmental implication;
    Was the site inspected and analysed for the storage of these chemicals
    Were technology was used, e.g. sequestration,etc?
    How often is the site to be inspected and at what cost and who will finance the inspection
    Who is taking liability for the dumping
    Was there a pre-dumping agreement with liabilities and securities

    1. Dear Dumisani
      Thank you for your comment, observations and and questions raised. This is to also indicate that a note thereof has been taken for submission to relevant authorities for possible answers. When once these are received, the editorial team will ensure they are published, and that you are notified of same.
      Editorial Team

  4. Will this toxic cargo sink or float on the sea surface and possibly back to the coast?
    Are the stains on the sea in St Helena Bay not possibly from residue washed off from the dumping stains on the hull of the ship and pose a threat to the marine environment and people? (Photos were provided in an email sent to SAMSA)

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