[ID] => 10848
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2019-04-29 09:41:28
[post_date_gmt] => 2019-04-29 08:41:28
[post_content] => By any standards, March 1989 had been a bad month for dangerous goods-related incidents and the May 1989 issue of HCB caught up with some of the most notorious.
A van exploded in an industrial estate in Peterborough, UK after catching fire; a fireman called to deal with it was killed, unaware that the unmarked vehicle was carrying six tonnes of explosives. The chemical tanker Maasgusar sank off the coast of Japan with all crew lost, after an engineroom fire spread to the 25,000-tonne cargo of various chemicals. And a small cargo ship, Perintis, sank in the English Channel in foul weather; the loss went unnoticed in the general press until it emerged that the ship had been carrying various pesticides and a container carrying lindane was found floating in the sea.
March 1989 was rounded off with the holing of the crude oil tanker Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska and the spill of some 35,000 tonnes of oil. It was clear early on that the master was drunk at the time and had left the third mate in control. US authorities responded promptly, passing the US Oil Pollution Act (OPA 90) the following year.
HCB’s editor, Mike Corkhill, unsurprisingly covered these incidents in his comment column, under the headline ‘Black March’. What he had to say about it then is just as relevant today:
The price that has to be paid for a hazardous materials incident is always high. Loss of life and damage to property and the environment are bad enough but the costs of the repercussions must also be borne in mind. Occasionally, such incidents reveal flaws or shortcomings in the existing regime of controls and, quite rightly, these gaps should be plugged. However, there is always a danger that the public outcry will prompt an over-reaction and unrealistically strict measures will be implemented which cause more harm than good. That would be too high a price to pay.
Mike was optimistic that the new vehicle placarding and driver training requirements in the UK’s proposed Road Traffic (Carriage of Explosives) Regulations would have a positive impact on safety but, like many at the time, felt that the rushed call for mandatory double hulls on oil tankers would raise more problems than it would solve. OPA 90 did indeed include such a requirement and, following the losses of the Braer and Sea Empress off the UK coast in the 1990s, the call for similar global action became unstoppable.
In the event, fears that the use of double hulls would create another risk – through the potential for explosive vapours to collect in enclosed spaces – have not been realised. In fact, OPA 90 and other similar regulations, along with advances in tanker inspections through the SIRE and CDI initiatives and the greater role taken by port state control activities, have largely cleaned up the business of shipping oil and chemicals in bulk. The term ‘substandard shipping’, which appeared so often in HCB in the 1990s, is now a thing of the past.
Mike finished his column with these words: “There is no such thing as safe hazardous materials, only safe handling, storage and transport.” We can all agree with that, even if we may disagree on how to achieve it. Peter Mackay
[post_title] => 30 Years Ago: May 1989
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
[ping_status] => open
[post_name] => 30-years-ago-may-1989
[post_modified] => 2019-04-08 10:43:41
[post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-08 09:43:41
[post_parent] => 0
[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10848
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