UK Accident Report Recommends New Guidance and Revision of the Guide to Good Practice on Port Marine Operations


An interesting accident report concerning a cargo of maize fumigated with aluminum phosphide outlines the causes and circumstances of accidental phosphine exposure. This report describes an investigation into release of phosphine gas during cargo discharge onboard Arklow Meadow.
The report describes procedures and regulations particular to the maritime industry in the UK and outlines the responsibilities of various crew and harbor personnel. The report also states, "There are no international training standards or minimum qualifications required by
fumigators. In the UK, a competent fumigator is generally recognised to be a person
who has completed a training programme organised by a recognised industry body
such as the British Pest Control Association (BPCA)."
There are some prior incidents of unexpectedly high levels of phosphine in ships arriving in UK ports and the report seeks to prevent future accidents. Aboard the Akklow Meadow, the report concludes, the crew and master were not aware of their responsibilities or risks of carrying fumigated cargo.
The 30 page report on the investigation into a release of phosphine gas during cargo discharge on board Arklow Meadow Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland on 5 December 2012 recommends:
"The Maritime and Coast Guard Agency  in consultation with the Health and Safety Executive, the Port Skills and Safety Organisation, and other industry bodies as appropriate, review, consolidate and reissue the guidance provided to UK stakeholders on the loading, carriage and discharge of fumigated cargoes

The United Kingdom Major Ports Group and the British Ports Association are
recommended to:

Through its Marine and Pilotage Working Group, develop a revision of the
Guide to Good Practice on Port Marine Operations to reflect the revised
guidance to be issued by the MCA, and in the meantime ensure that ports are
aware of:

• The potential dangers posed by fumigants.
• The importance of suitably qualified fumigators certifying, where
applicable, that the cargo can be safely discharged and that all fumigant
has been removed and safely disposed of.
• The importance of developing procedures and emergency plans
to cover the inadvertent or unexpected release of fumigant from a
fumigated cargo."

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