Article – BusinessDesk
Nov. 25 (BusinessDesk) – Maritime New Zealand is conducting an urgent investigation into the latest example of maladministration on the reef-bound container ship Rena, with the late disclosure by the Mediterranean Shipping Corporation of 21 previously …
Rena operators reveal more dangerous goods, new charges in prospect
By Pattrick Smellie
Nov. 25 (BusinessDesk) – Maritime New Zealand is conducting an urgent investigation into the latest example of maladministration on the reef-bound container ship Rena, with the late disclosure by the Mediterranean Shipping Corporation of 21 previously undisclosed containers holding dangerous goods.
Some 11 containers were originally reported as holding dangerous goods, when the Rena went aground on the well-marked Astrolabe Reef in the small hours of Oct. 5, where it lost oil and some 87 containers into the sea.
“For reasons still unknown, the contents of these 21 containers were not declared as dangerous goods in the original manifest provided to Maritime NZ and as required under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code,” said the agency’s chief executive, Catherine Taylor.
All 21 of the containers are below decks in the Rena, and contain a total of 490 tonnes of cryolite, a bonding agent that can be toxic if breathed as dust.
“While experts advise that the contents of these containers are considered low risk in their current state submerged below decks in the vessel’s holds, MNZ is carrying out a thorough investigation as to why these dangerous goods were not declared as required under maritime legislation and whether this constitutes a breach of the law.”
Cryolite is a by-product of the aluminium smelting process, which is considered low risk unless ingested or inhaled directly in its dry powdered form.
“Since learning of this new information on Tuesday, Maritime NZ has spent the last few days working extensively with various scientific, environmental and health experts to accurately assess the risk posed by cryolite to the marine environment and to people,” Taylor said. “We have also been given a strong assurance by MSC that there are no other potentially dangerous goods on board that have not been declared.”
“Expert advice is that the cryolite on board Rena is considered to be of low risk given that the product is only slightly soluble in water, so is expected to dissolve slowly. Any dissolved material will be diluted and dispersed very rapidly, reducing the potential effects further.”
“While this late notification is frustrating, it’s simply another issue Rena has thrown at us that we have to get on and deal with,” Taylor said.