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
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
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.