It may be another two to three more weeks before troublesome chemical cargo is fully offloaded from the NS Qingdao vessel, currently docked at the port of Saldanha on South Africa west coast, said the South African Maritime Safety Authority late Friday.
This would be about six months since the Marshal Islands registered commercial cargo vessel first set anchor at the country’s ports only to prove a major headache after its cargo of a chemical product reacted to rain water at its first attempt to offload in Durban last October, thereby setting in motion one of the most intense, delicate and time consuming unstable cargo containment exercises ever undertaken by authorities in recent times.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, SAMSA confirmed the vessel was still at anchor in Saldanha Bay for the continued discharge of its waste cargo.
“The vessel will be alongside a berth again on or about Sunday 6th March to continue operations. Operations are proceeding in a safe and well-coordinated manner and good progress has been made,” said SAMSA
The agency added that: “As of the 1st of March 2022, approximately half of the cargo in cargo hold No.3 had been discharged and disposed at Vissershok High Hazardous Waste Management Site. Wastewater will also be pumped into tanks and sent for disposal at the same waste management site.
“It is anticipated that once the vessel is alongside a berth that it would take approximate 2 to 3 weeks to discharge the remaining waste cargo from the ship and dispose it at Vissershok. The vessel will then be inspected by SAMSA and its classification society to ensure she is safe to continue her voyage to Brazil to discharge remaining cargo onboard.
According to SAMSA, the agency and the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) have reached agreement with the vessel’s owners and P&I Club “to implement a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential immediate and future impacts can be assessed and mitigated.
“The P&I Club’s appointed environmental specialists in collaboration with DFFE are continuously monitoring the coast and sea area to determine any threats to the marine environment resulting from the emergency disposal of cargo dumped approximately 250 km offshore. To date, satellite imaging shows no immediate indications of harmful effects to the receiving environment or marine life.
“The Marshall Islands Flag State Investigation team have (also) started their investigation and it is expected to continue over the next few months until the root cause can be established. As part of the co-operation agreement, SAMSA is sharing the available information with the vessels flag. It is expected that the detailed investigation will take an estimated 12 months to complete and that the final report will be shared with SAMSA,”said SAMSA
The agency also expressed its gratitude to all people it has worked closely with to date in managing the vessel.
“SAMSA would like to thank the salvage team onboard, who at great peril to themselves, said SAMSA, “risked everything to successfully bring this emergency situation under control where normal cargo operations could continue. The support from all the person involved in managing this emergency since it started in Durban in October 2021 has been very good, despite the difficult choices that had to be made over the last 6 months by the Authorities.
“The vessel owner continues to co-operate with all authorities and have covered all expenses to date regarding this salvage operation,” said SAMSA.
The salvage of a vessel with unstable chemical cargo, the bulk carrier NS Qingdao; off South Africa’s west coast, is reaching a critical final stage, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)
This is contained in a statement issued by SAMSA in Pretora on Friday morning. In the statement the agency says the volatility of the chemical cargo – inclusive of an out of control fire in a cargo hold – is being successfully contained so far, this following the off-loading and dumping of some of the cargo at sea recently.
As a result, the 190×32 meters, Marshall Islands flagged bulk carrier is being brought into the port of Saldanha Bay for further offloading and final disposal of the rest of the cargo at an inland hazardous waste management site located at Visserhok.
According to a Western Cape government website, the site is “one of three operational (Cape Town) landfill sites… located close to Table View and exists for the disposal of general and low to medium hazardous waste which cannot be reused or recycled.”
In Pretoria on Friday, SAMSA said due to this latest development, “the emergency (of the cargo vessel situation) has now been downscaled from a ‘severe maritime emergency’ to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port.”
According to SAMSA, the bulk carrier, is drifting currently off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.
Said SAMSA in the statement: “The bulk carrier, NS Qingdao, will be brought into the port of Saldanha Bay after the chemical decomposition and fire in cargo hold No.3 was brought under control. The emergency has now been downscaled from a Severe Maritime Emergency to a salvage operation that can be safely managed in port. The vessel is drifting off the port of Saldanha Bay, waiting for a berth.
“This decision was taken by the competent authorities after DFFE and SAMSA representatives conducted a vessel inspection offshore to determine whether it was safe to do so and reviewing reports from the chemical and fire specialists onboard.
“Transnet National Port Authority will provide a berth for the vessel and is comfortable that it safe for the vessel to enter the port.”
“The Joint Operations Committee (JOC) comprises of National, Provincial government officials and includes local municipal representatives. The JOC members have been actively involved in managing this maritime emergency since the vessel was evacuated from the port of Durban.
“Salvage experts have been working around the clock to contain and extinguish the fire onboard the vessel for the past three (3) months. Attempts to extinguish the fire by discharging the reactive cargo via skips offshore and dispose of the cargo at the High Hazardous Vissershok waste management site was hampered by the location of the affected cargo within the cargo hold.
“The vessel was escorted offshore by an Emergency Towing Vessel in early December after the fire unexpectedly re-ignited, causing a large volume of toxic fumes to be released and enter the engine room resulting in the evacuation of the engine room.
“Due to the fast deteriorating conditions onboard and to save the ship and people onboard, the JOC decided to conduct an emergency dump of the absolute bare minimum of reactive cargo 250km offshore in 3000m of water in order to bring the situation under control as fast as possible.
“The DFFE issued an emergency permit as prescribed by Chapter 8, Section 71 (1) (a), of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) and the Dumping at Sea Regulations, after consulting with the Oceans and Coasts research branch, Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“GESAMP is a group of independent scientific experts that provides advice to the UN system on scientific aspects of marine environmental protection and consists out of up to 20 experts, over 500 scientists from at least 50 countries. This organisation provides authoritative, independent, interdisciplinary scientific advice to organisations and governments to support the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment.
“The GESAMP mechanism functions under the auspices of ten UN Organizations, all with substantial maritime and ocean interests and potentially overlapping responsibilities.
“Approximately 1300T of cargo was dumped offshore which enabled the situation to be brought back under control. The JOC can confirm that the operation was monitored through onboard drones and DFFE satellite imaging and can confirm that no immediate environmental damage was observed.
“The hot cargo cooled rapidly and dissolved very quickly in the ocean. Although no immediate environmental damage was noticed, SAMSA and the DFFE are in discussions with the vessel owner and insurers to arrange a medium to long term environmental monitoring program so that any potential future outfall can be managed responsibly as fast as possible.
“The vessel was anchored off St. Helena Bay for the last two (2) weeks to allow the authorities to monitor the cargo and establish whether it was safe to enter port.
“The affected portion of the chemical cargo will be discharged in port by the Salvors and chemical waste specialists. The chemical waste will be taken to the approved High Hazardous Waste Management site at Vissershok until such time that it is safe for stevedores to manage the cargo discharge operation.
“As an interested state, SAMSA concluded an investigation cooperation agreement with the Marshall Islands Maritime Authorities. The cause of the incident is still under investigation and a chemical analysis of the cargo will be completed while the vessel is in port to determine the underlying casual factors for the fire and whether the vessel had any undeclared cargo in the hold.
“The vessel owner, master and P&I Club is cooperating with the Authorities, ” read the SAMSA statement.
The prevention of accidents and accurate, timely reporting thereon when incidents occur to and on board vessels in South African waters involving people’s lives, remains a key contributor to success of the development of the country’s maritime sector, according to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
The statement, contained in the latest issue of the SAMSA industry periodic report on incidents at sea ; the SAMSA Maritime Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter 2016 (15th Edition) comes in the wake of what the State agency responsible for safety of people and property at sea, describes as a noticeable significant poor reporting of incidents to and on board vessels.
This, SAMSA says; is characterized either by a failure to report, or very late reporting and none of which assists the organization in ensuring timely investigation and accurate recording of such incidents.
“SAMSA is still concerned at the non-reporting and/or late notification of incidents. During audits, these incidents are picked up and it is problematic to investigate an incident that happened months prior as SAMSA (is) unable to attend the scene, equipment involved has been moved and or repaired and witnesses cannot be located or their recollection of events has faded,” the agency says in the report.
According to SAMSA, in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act 1951, a series of serious injuries and accidents occurring on board vessels, whether the vessel is afloat or not, are required to be reported to it. But so should incidents involving mechanical and equipment failure that leads to an accident.
In the Maritime Occupational Health & Safety Newsletter 2016 released this week, SAMSA gives an overview of operations in general in which incidents occurred on board vessels but also with specific focus on the stevedoring and ship repair subsectors.
In these subsectors, the report’s editor Kirsty Goodwin notes that in general in 2016 “for the sixth consecutive year, no stevedore fatalities occurred on board ships in South African ports.
“There has also been a steady decrease in the number of serious injuries, with eight injuries reported in 2015 and five in 2016. This is a welcome improvement, which I hope is sustainable during busy periods when there is a necessity to use workers from labour brokers.”
But she also laments the fact “in the ship repair industry, it is with dismay that SAMSA reports a shore contractor was fatally injured on board a vessel in Saldanha…and that there was a slight decrease in the number of serious injuries that occurred on board vessels.”
To read or download the full report in .pdf, Click Here
An R8-billion worth oil rig and ship repair business up for grabs – Commander Tsietsi Mokhele, CEO South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
Pretoria: 15 February 2016
The current down turn in the world’s economy and whose impact is more pronounced on depressed commodity prices but especially mining and oil, presents South Africa’s maritime economic sector with a golden opportunity to stack up investment in subsectors best positioned to benefit from it, according to South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Chief Executive Officer, Commander Tsietsi Mokhele.
He was speaking during a gathering of some of the country’s maritime sector business and investment leaders organized by SAMSA in Cape Town last week.
According to Mr Mokhele, sub sectors of the country’s maritime economic sector best positioned to benefit from the current global economic downturn, and which has seen South Africa’s currency exchange rate plummeting to over R15 to the US dollar in a period of less a year, were marine tourism and leisure, marine manufacturing but specifically ships and oil rigs repair and related.
Mr Mokhele said South Africa’s maritime sector economic development was now fully on the country’s agenda as illustrated by the launch of the Operation Phakisa (Oceans Economy) initiative in 2014, and therefore had garnered sufficient political will as well as support from infrastructure developers such as Transnet.
“What is still holding us back is the ambition of the industry, the trust levels of the (private sector) industry, those they need to more successful will respond positively to their needs,” said Mr Mokhele.
According to Mr Mokhele, with investors in the maritime sector taking advantage of current of the current global economic conditions, the oil rigs repair and boat manufacturing alone could develop an into an R8-billion worth business in the next five years.
But the organisation will have to do more, fast; as “50 more” are needed: Deputy Minister
Saldanha Bay: December 07, 2015
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has received praise from Government for its speedy facilitation of the registration of cargo trade vessels now carrying the country’s flag in the past year.
The accolade came from national Transport Ministry’s deputy Minister Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga during a Presidential Imbizo week event held at the port of Saldanha on Monday.
Speaking during the open imbizo of the maritime economic sector (oil and gas subsector) chaired by the Transport Ministry and attended by the media, to receive reports on progress achieved so far with new infrastructure development being undertaken at the port of Saldanha, Ms Chikunga hailed SAMSA’s pace in achieving the registration of at least three cargo vessels in 2015 under the South African flag.
Ship registry is among priorities identified under Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) launched a year ago.
The first of the three private sector trade vessels now carrying the country’s flag was registered in September 2015, followed soon thereafter by two others.
Ms Chikunga noted how she had put ‘tremendous pressure’ on SAMSA to “deliver” on the goal but went further to describe the feat as exemplary of the high pace denoted by Operation Phakisa (meaning “speed things up”) in implementing timely, programs and processes jointly identified by Government and the private sector as required for the country’s economic rejuvenation and growth, but especially the maritime economic sector.
“We made promises to the people of South Africa. We have to deliver on those.” She said, adding that while the ministry was happy with the development, the country needed more vessels registered.
“We now want to see 50 more registered and we want to know from the institution (SAMSA) how soon can we have that 50 in our books,’ said Ms Chikunga during a media conference.
However, the applause for SAMSA contrasted the mood of both the deputy Minister as well as private sector representatives that greeted a Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) report on progress achieved so far with development of the port of Saldanha.
The gathering was the first of several this week during which Government and private sector principals across sectors are meeting to thrash out challenges facing the economy and to come out with clear plans on how best to overcome these.
Ms Chikunga said the imbizo at Saldanha Bay on Monday had been convened to receive and evaluate reports by both her office as well as concerned maritime sector investors on TNPA’s progress with projects earmarked for the port of Saldanha in terms of the Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) plans for the Marine Transport and Manufacturing lab – one of five targeted for prioritization in the revitalization of the country’s maritime economic sector.
Precisely, in terms of the MTM lab recommendations, the port of Saldanha was approved by Government for the establishment of a purpose built oil and gas port infrastructure, with TNPA charged with facilitating rapidly not only the development, and unlocking investment in new and existing port facilities around the country, but also with creating and implementing a public procurement and localization programme, as well as developing a strategic marketing campaign and value proposition for target markets.
According to a presentation by port of Saldanha manager, Mr Willem Roux, the oil and gas infrastructure intended for development at the West Coast port, at an estimated investment of approximately R10-billion, include a proposed Mossgas quay extension, a general maintenance quay, a new oil and gas repair berth as well as an extension of the current iron ore berth.
This would be in addition to a long planned development of an Industrial Development Zone alongside the port.
It emerged at the imbizo on Monday the expectation was that with timely execution of the MTM lab related plan for the oil and gas port infrastructure by the TNPA, at least 3 000 direct and indirect jobs would be created each year since 2014 – a figure said should have doubled to 6 000 new direct and indirect jobs to date.
However, tempers flared at times during the imbizo after it emerged that according to TNPA current plans as presented by Mr Roux, the key facilities of the development at the port of Saldanha earmarked for the oil and gas subsector would most likely be ready for utilization by about 2019 instead of the scheduled 2017.
This according to Transnet, was due in part to the need for the relocation of manganese ore from both the port of Saldanha as well as the port of Port Elizabeth to the Ngurha deep water port also in Port Elizabeth. This would take three years through to 2019 to complete, the parastatal reported.
The report did not go down well with neither Ms Chikunga nor the investment, business and local community representatives virtually all of whom saw the performance as ‘slow’.
Speakers all bemoaned what they described as a reflection of South Africa’s apparent inability to stick to undertakings, and instead seemed at ease with moving further time frames for delivery of identified infrastructure development programmes.
Business representatives said this practice did not only paint a bad image of the country in the investment community but was also proving costly to those investors already committed.
In addition, local business and civic society representatives were far from pleased that the number of jobs planned for the port of Saldanha infrastructure development were far from being realized – but especially that there were not even figures presented at the meeting to illustrate if any jobs at all had been created, in order to alleviate high unemployment in the community of just over 100 000 inhabitants.
It helped little that TNPA officials cited also ongoing discussions within the institution intended partly at ensuring that businesses currently utilizing the port ,such as mining; were not impacted negatively by the new projects.
An apparently frustrated Ms Chikunga responded: ‘If decisions take 14 months to make…by people sitting together every day, who therefore can organize one another and discuss, what do I say? What report do I take to the President…and you are expecting investor confidence?
“It cannot be that you are taking 14 months to sit and discuss. The second issue for me is that we do not respond quickly as South Africans, why is that? If are you are saying we as the Department of Transport are appointing people who do not know what they are doing, then tell us, so that we can look into the issue!
“We are a country like other countries. We must be able to respond quickly enough as other developing countries are doing. I am talking about Kenya. I am talking about developing African countries. A delay in an Operation Phakisa project has so much impact on other projects..and surely it should be frustrating investors even more because there is money involved,” said Ms Chikunga
TNPA Chief Executive Officer Richard Vallihu, however assured both Ms Chikunga and the business and local community representatives that deadlines on the projects would be met, and that a substantial number of jobs were assured to be created in this and various other current projects underway, inclusive of the deepening of parts of the Durban port.
With regards community benefits but especially in terms of jobs and related matters, Mr Vallihu said his institution was doing far more, as it had embarked also on investment in schools along its ports intended to offer skills development programmes for labour, specifically youth and women that would be absorbed in the maritime sector.
The imbizo wrapped up with a visit of the earmarked port area in Saldanha designed for oil and gas infrastructure development.
Clip One: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga outlines the purpose of the Presidential Imbizo (Transport sector/maritime sector)
Clip Two: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga responding to Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) report on progress achieved to date on the development of port infrastructure for the Oil and Gas subsector at the port of Saldanha
Clip Three: Transnet National Ports Authority CEO responding to concerns raised by both Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga and business, investment and local community representatives at the imbizo.
For Deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga’s media conference video remarks, click here
World’s maritime sector turns its eye on South Africa
Saldanha Bay: Tuesday, 08 December 2015
South Africa’s stature as a significant international maritime economy player is due to gain considerable extensive global focus in the next five years following to confirmation of its agency as the next host of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly in 2020.
The IMO’s Assembly is the highest governing body of the organization consisting of all member States. It meets once every two years and is responsible for approving the institution’s work programme, voting the budget and determining financial arrangements.. The assembly also elects the IMO council.
South Africa falls under ‘category C’ of the IMO Council as one of “20 States which have special interests in maritime transport or navigation, and whose election to the Council will ensure the representation of all major geographic areas of the world.”
Countries in the category include Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Chile, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey.
The inaugural hosting of the IMO assembly in South Africa, involving possibly as many as 230 countries, was announced by national Department of Transport deputy Minister, Sindisiwe Chikunga in Saldanha Bay on Monday.
She was hosting the first of a weeklong Ministerial 2015 ‘imbizos’ intended to facilitate direct interaction and robust engagement between senior Government officials, including Cabinet Ministers, with industry principals across the country’s economic sectors on current and planned projects.
Ms Chikunga is directly charged with supervision of among others, the maritime transport and manufacturing aspects of the nation’s Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) launched 14 months ago.
She said the IMO last Friday not only retained South Africa ‘member state’ status ahead of several African countries but also charged the country with responsibility for hosting the rest of the global maritime countries’ assembly in 2020.
“We have recently returned – last Friday to be precise – from the International Maritime Organizaton Assembly (2015) where it was resolved and announced that South Africa will host the 2020 IMO International World Maritime Parallel event.
A mammoth task
“The announcement places a mammoth task to the maritime industry of this country to speed up the implementation of Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) to enable us to showcase the same to the countries of the world, come 2020.
“We urgently need to establish a 2020 World Maritime Parallel Event Planning Task Team comprising of both public and private sector, which will ensure that South Africa and Africa’s opportunity is exhaustively utilized.”
Ms Chikunga said South Africa’s retention of its IMO Council membership status was “a victory (is) not only for South Africa but for our African continent.”
“The representation of Africa into these very influential organizations can never be overly emphasized. There is a massive potential for growth backed up by global statistics on Africa as the current epicenter in foreign direct investment given its young active population,” said Ms Chikunga.
She urged stakeholders in the maritime sector to begin preparing for the next IMO gathering due in two years’ time in preparation for the Assembly scheduled for South Africa.
Referring to the country’s new Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) campaign she said it was geared towards ensuring focused investment in maritime economy infrastructure development as a catalyst and incentive for further and expanded private sector involvement. She urged for greater cooperation.
“For us to become global players we noted the importance of investing in maritime transport infrastructure to attract shipping and shipping services to our shores. To achieve the people’s social contract we need to pull together as stakeholders to move South Africa forward.”
Monday’s maritime sector specific Ministerial Imbizo at Saldanha Bay was based on the coastal town’s port having been earmarked as among three of the country’s major ports intended to contribute to the country maritime economic sector development through new infrastructure development.
Attending the event were a host of key public and private sector players in the maritime sector, including Transnet’s National Ports Authority chief executive officer, Richard Vallihu, Ports Regulator CEO, Mahesh Vakir, and others; mainly from the gas and oil subsector, and ship manufacturing and repair subsector.
Ms Chikunga said: “Saldanha is one of our very strategic ports identified for Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) as an Oil and Gas repair hub for South Africa…and the success of the Saldanha Bay port project will translate into the creation of an estimated 15 000 direct and indirect jobs.
“In order to reach the target, come 2019, a minimum employment of 3 000 jobs per annum is required. This means we should at present be sitting on approximately 6 000 jobs created.
“Tantamount to this will also be a massive contribution to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) that is estimated at R18-billion once it is fully functional.
“We are cognizant of the fact that delays will cost the nation tremendously, (and) it is thus important that both business, parastatals and government have to find speed on infrastructure delivery as it determines the speed of employment and economic progression.”
Clip: Department of Transport deputy Minister, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga announcing the appointment of South Africa as a host of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Assembly in 2020.