Multraship Completes Salvage of Toxic Containers

Thursday, January 29, 2004
Netherlands-based Multraship Salvage has successfully completed an operation to recover three containers loaded with toxic cargo lost overboard in the North Sea from the Ethiopian vessel Andinet. The operation to recover the containers, which were lost twenty miles north of the Dutch coast, off Texel, on December 21, 2003, got under way on January 3 but was interrupted on several occasions by severe weather conditions and was not completed until January 28. The salvage operation was carried out by the sheerlegs Cormorant and the multi-purpose vessel Multraship Commander. The containers were lifted from the seabed by Cormorant and placed in watertight, oversized flats on the aft deck of the Multraship Commander and have now been discharged in Rotterdam for inspection. The cargo consisted of containerised steel drums of wood preservatives known as CCA 72%, the main constituents of which include arsenic pentoxide, chromium trioxide and copper dioxide. Although there has reportedly been some leakage of the toxic cargo into the water, onsite analysis by Rijkswaterstaat, a division of the Dutch ministry of transport with responsibility for pollution prevention, has said that any damage to the environment is likely to be much less than had at one time been feared, not least because the product discharged into the sea was found to have a very low toxic concentration. Leendert Muller, managing director of Multraship, says, "It was a dangerous salvage operation that we were able to complete because we had the right equipment and the right expertise to remove this toxic cargo safely and to take it ashore for proper, supervised disposal. We worked according to the most stringent safety procedures in order to protect our salvage team from possible contamination and to prevent/minimise damage to the environment. We were assisted and advised throughout by experienced chemical experts." Meanwhile, the search goes on for a further 63 single drums of cargo lost from the vessel. The recovery of these drums did not form part of the salvage contract agreed between Multraship and the vessel's P&I club, Steamship Mutual. It is understand that the Dutch naval authorities are continuing the search for the missing drums.

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