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Warning to Norwegian ship owner after chemical spill

The Norwegian ship owner Jo Tankers receives heavy criticism from the environmental authorities in the Dominican Republic, after chemical spills in one of the country’s harbours. “The company set both the harbour workers and the environment in danger”, said Felipe Ditren, director in the Dominican Ministry of Environment. The company claims not responsible for the incident.
Read also: Jo Tanker implements more rigorous safety demands
Artikkelen er mer enn to år gammel. Ting kan ha endret seg.
The Norwegian ship owner Jo Tankers receives heavy criticism from the environmental authorities in the Dominican Republic, after chemical spills in one of the country’s harbours. “The company set both the harbour workers and the environment in danger”, said Felipe Ditren, director in the Dominican Ministry of Environment. The company claims not responsible for the incident.
Read also: Jo Tanker implements more rigorous safety demands

(First published in Norwegian 14 Sep 2007)

By Erik Hagen
Norwatch

The Norwegian vessel ‘Jo Ebony’. Owned by the Norwegian ship owner Jo Tankers, discharged on July 13th this year, 1621 tonnes of caustic soda at the Dominican Republic. According to a report elaborated by the Dominican Ministry of Environment, which Norwatch has read, parts of the cargo ran onto the ground and into the water.

“When the caustic soda was transferred to trucks onshore, parts of the cargo was spilled on the ground, and polluted the harbour area, said Felipe Ditren, director in the country’s Ministry of Environment on telephone to Norwatch.

He says the company received a warning after the accident.

The shipping company is surprised to hear several of the allegations from the authorities, and says the company has never received any warning. They do not exclude the possibility that their local agent might have received such a communication from the authorities.

Corrosive
There are normally very strict regulations for the treatment and transport of dangerous chemicals such as sodium hydroxide –also called caustic soda.

But according to the report from the Dominican Ministry of Environment, the discharging from the Norwegian vessel in July was to have taken place in a reckless manner. Qualified personnel were supposedly not present, while the harbour workers were not appropriately equipped with personal protection.  The last is also shown on photos (right) that Norwatch have received from the Caribbean state.

The director in the Ministry of Environment says they have not proceeded in fining or in other ways sanctioning the firm, but that they have given the Norwegian company a warning. The warning was given both to the Norwegian shipping company and to the local importer. According to the authorities, both are equally responsible for the chemical spill.

“We had a meeting with representatives of the vessel, and with the local importer. There we made it clear that both have received a yellow card”, said Felipe Ditren, who himself attended the meeting.

Surprised
Technical director at the Jo Tankers office in Bergen, Mr. Kjell Ove Breivik, did not know of the episode when Norwatch called him the first time, and is surprised with the allegations from Ditren.

“We did not receive any complaint of warning from the local authorities at all after this shipment”, said Breivik to Norwatch after having checked up the matter.

He said that they have never had a meeting with the authorities. He does not exclude the possibility that their local agent could have participated in such a meeting, at the time when the case was made known in Dominican media some time after the discharging was finished. It was not before it entered Dominican press that the company’s leadership was made aware of the episode.

“The reason that we never received a report from the ship, is probably that the spill was made on land, after it became the responsibility of the importer”, said Breivik.

Breivik said that the boat has all the necessary equipment to prevent spills, and that they follow all regulations when it comes to safety.

“We look at incidents of spills very, very seriously. The few times it happens, we thoroughly go through analysis of what happened in order to prevent that the mistake is repeated”, said Breivik to Norwatch.

Now, the company is to change its procedures, urging the recipients to become more environmentally friendly.

“We shall see at what we can do in positively influencing the local conditions, so they can organise more environmentally proper receiving systems”, he said to Norwatch.

More rigorous routines
Also the authorities in the Dominican Republic will make more rigorous routines. According to the director Felipe Ditren, the local Ministry of Environment is under-staffed, and it is difficult to keep control on the country’s environmental challenges. He said to Norwatch that they after this episode have changed the routines for the arrival of caustic soda. From now on, the customs authorities must call for the assistance of representatives from the Ministry of Environment when shipments of the chemical arrives their harbours.

“It is evident that the control has been to bad so far. But now we hope to prevent new episodes like this”, said Ditren.

- Annonse -