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Undeclared toxic chemical fire hits 1,585-TEUer in Laem Chabang

FIRE-PRONE toxic chemicals are said to have caused the fire and an explosion aboard the 1,585-TEU KMTC Hongkong in eastern Laem Chabang port that hospitalised 130 people

30 May 2019 - 19:00

FIRE-PRONE toxic chemicals are said to have caused the fire and an explosion aboard the 1,585-TEU KMTC Hongkong in eastern Laem Chabang port that hospitalised 130 people.

Of the 35 containers that remained on the ship, an inspection team found calcium hypochlorite in 13 containers and chlorinated paraffin wax in five others, 'so it could be concluded that the ignition of these toxic chemicals is the most plausible cause of fire,' according Bangkok's Nation daily newspaper.



Port Authority director Kamolsak Phromprayoon said the owners of the shipments had not declared the toxic chemicals to the Thai Customs, so the officers did not know the contents of the cargo, which resulted in the preliminary report that said no toxic chemicals were involved.



'Generally, every shipment of toxic chemicals, including transshipments, has to be declared before entering port. But as the ship's company did not declare these toxic chemicals, it would be the duty of the shipping company to claim the damage from the shipment's owners,' said Mr Phromprayoon.



Maersk, which banned shipments of calcium hypochlorite in 2015, announced in September it had developed 'risk-based dangerous goods stowage principles', following the fire aboard the Maersk Honam that resulted in the death of five crew.



Grimaldi Group, an Italian shipowner that has had two ships - Grande America and Grande Europa - suffered fires this year, urged the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 'to make mandatory the certification by a classification society of the correct stuffing of containers carrying dangerous goods' in mid-May after the Grande Europa had two fires within hours.



Andrew Kinsey, senior risk consultant at insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, told American Shipper he did not believe there was a need for stricter measures but rather strict compliance with existing regulations and 'greater vigilance in inspection'.



The blast, which occurred about 8am local time, according to The Nation, sent clouds of white powder into the air along with the black smoke from the fire.



Communities around the Laem Chabang port were evacuated following reports of noxious smoke and acidic ashes raining down over the villages.


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