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NYK Apologizes for Bulker Accident Sending Teams to the Oil Cleanup

NYK is assisting in the cleanup of oil and cargo from the Crimson Polaris
NYK is assisting in the cleanup of oil and cargo from the Crimson Polaris (Japan Coast Guard photo)

Published Aug 18, 2021 4:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

NYK Line issued an apology for the accident involving the wood chip carrier that caused the environmental accident off the coast of Hachinohe, Japan last week. The company said as the charter it had decided to take action sending teams to assist in the cleanup efforts while investigations into the accident are also ongoing.

“As a member involved in transportation through the vessel, I am deeply concerned that the accident has caused great inconvenience and concern to the neighboring municipalities, fishermen, business partners, and other related parties. We apologize for the inconvenience,” NYK said in its public statement. “We will continue to cooperate with ship owners, ship management companies, and related parties to make every effort to resolve the situation as soon as possible.”

The 39,900 ton Crimson Polaris was inbound to Japan on August 11 loaded with 44,000 tons of wood chips when it grounded during heavy weather. Initially, the shipping line reported that a portion of the vessel’s cargo leaked due to a crack in the hull but the following morning the vessel broke apart between the No 5 and 6 cargo hold. In addition to the cargo, oil was seen leaking from the vessel. NYK later reported that the ship was carrying about 1,550 MT of heavy oil and about 130 MT of diesel oil for fuel.

The containment and recovery efforts have been hampered by high seas with reports that the oil slick was spreading. Reports indicated that the slick had reached up to 15 miles. A Japanese TV report showed the oil floating on the surface as of August 17 saying that it had contaminated four fishing grounds used to catch mackerel, Fisherman also worried because the squid fishing season is due to start shortly. 

NYK indicated that it sent the first of at least three teams each consisting of 10 people to the site on August 18 to assist with the cleanup of cargo and oil that is washing up onshore. “Currently, oil and cargo washed ashore on the coast are being cleaned by a cleaning company arranged by the shipowner under the guidance of the Maritime Disaster Prevention Center,” NYK reported. 

“From the standpoint of being involved in this accident as a charterer, we have decided to recruit workers to clean the cargo washed ashore on the beach and dispatch them to the site,” said NYK. They said that each team would be there for two days and one night with measures being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The Panama Maritime Authority, as the flag state for the bulker, reported it is monitoring the situation and is in communication collaborating with the Japanese authorities. Reviewing the history of the vessel they said records indicated that the last Annual Safety Inspection (ASI) was carried out on June 2, 2021, with no deficiencies found, and in addition its last PSC Port Rector State inspection, according to Tokyo MOU, was held on May 24, 2021, in Tokushima, Japan. They said they intend to carry out a joint investigation within the Accident Investigation Code of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to determine the cause of the accident.