MARAD Warns on Tianjin Contamination

Tianjin Explosion

Published Sep 8, 2015 8:43 AM by The Maritime Executive

The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has issued Advisory 2015-02 with regard to possible contamination by hazardous materials due to the explosions that occurred last month in Tianjin, China.
Following the tragic explosions, it is possible that there is potentially hazardous ash, debris or residues on vessels or cargo. A comprehensive list of chemicals involved is not yet available, but several hazardous chemicals are reported to have been in the main warehouse, including sodium cyanide (UN1689) and calcium carbide (UN1402).  

The Japan P&I Club warns that, given the substantial size of the explosions and the suspected hazardous chemicals involved, ships and cargo in port at or near the times of the explosions may have been exposed to potentially hazardous dust, ash or debris.
The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are monitoring all U.S. bound cargo and vessels that were in the port of Tianjin on or after August 12, and masters are requested to report to the nearest USCG Captain of the Port as soon as possible if they suspect any hazardous conditions, illnesses or unknown substances on board.
According to Lamorte Burns & Co., Inc., the Club’s correspondents in the U.S., the USCG and CBP do not yet have a protocol in place for testing samples of residue taken. However, the authorities expect that vessels will report any contamination of cargo or crew illness on arrival. 

When considering an appropriate response the USCG and CBP will consider the proximate location of the cargo to the warehouse that exploded. In this respect, Lamorte Burns & Co., Inc. has recommended that during loading operations the crew check the cargo closely for any unusual dust, debris or other contamination that may be present on the cargo, as well as closely monitoring the health of crew members who come into contact with the cargo.  

The Club recommends that masters should be prepared to answer questions from the U.S. authorities on the weather conditions at the time of loading, the subject cargo and measures taken by the vessel to ensure the cargo was not contaminated.