Friday, August 28, 2015

USCG Monitoring Tianjin Cargo for Contamination

By Mark Edward Nero

The US Coast Guard said Aug. 26 that it is monitoring vessel traffic and cargo departing the port complex in Tianjin, China, following the warehouse explosions that occurred Aug. 12 through 15.

Subject to monitoring is any vessel that was in the Tianjin port complex, or that has loaded cargo or containers that were in the Tianjin port complex, at the time of the explosions on Aug. 12 through Aug. 15.

The monitoring, which is being conducted by both the USCG and Customs & Border Protection, is due to concerns that there may be potentially hazardous ash, debris or residues on vessels or cargo bound for US ports.

Vessels affected by the Tianjin explosions are expected to call on US ports over the next several weeks, and while there have been no reports of vessels with confirmed hazardous debris or residues onboard, US companies are looking for reassurances regarding the health and safety of those who handle shipping containers across the supply chain.

The federal government is working with local, state and federal port and international partners to coordinate efforts to identify any potential risks on inbound vessels and cargo to help ensure public safety.

“Although there is much reporting in the media as to the situation in Tianjin, China, there is not yet clarity of the full extent or nature of any possible chemical contamination that may be aboard impacted vessels,” Coast Guard officials wrote in a marine safety information bulletin distributed this week.

“Vessel owners and operators should be aware of the potential for hazardous ash, debris or residues onboard impacted vessels or containers, particularly in cargo bays and interior spaces not regularly exposed to the elements,” the bulletin continued.

The Coast Guard has said that although there have been no reports of vessels with confirmed hazardous ash, debris or residues onboard, affected vessels and cargo may have an increased risk of exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals. Several hazardous chemicals are reported to have been in the main warehouse during the incident, including sodium cyanide and calcium carbide.