Image courtesy Hamburg Police Department / Twitter
By MarEx 2016-09-13 20:41:26
The fire aboard the container ship CCNI Arauco was safely extinguished September 3, after 48 hours and multiple attempts – but the ship still remains in Hamburg harbor, and authorities are trying figuring out what to do with thousands of tons of contaminated firefighting water in her holds.
In addition to the combustion residues in the water, firefighters pumped 12,000 gallons of firefighting foam through the ventilation system and into the Arauco's hold. Modern firefighting foams all contain perfluorocarbon surfactants; while manufacturers have made changes in recent years, these chemicals are in a family of compounds under scrutiny by regulators for the risk of persistent environmental contamination. Among other impacts, this has lead to multimillon-dollar cleanup costs for the U.S. Department of Defense, the leading user of older formulations of AFFF (aqueous film forming foam, more commonly known as "A-triple-F").
The 2015-built Arauco is set to go to Bremerhaven for repairs, but Bremerhaven lacks facilities for properly receiving the wastewater, authorities say. They have called for the water to be pumped off and treated locally before her departure.
Separately, media in Hamburg have raised concerns that the difficulty of extinguishing the blaze on the Arauco reflects poorly on the preparedness of local emergency services – and suggests that the size of ever-growing container vessels may be changing the nature of a casualty in port.
Hamburg's two fire boats are small relative to the size of modern commercial vessels and have been in service for four decades; the fire department's supplies of AFFF were inadequate to the task of filling one hold, and additional quantities had to be borrowed from aircraft manufacturer Airbus and from Tamoil's Holborn refinery (not uncommon, said fire department spokesman Torsten Wessely); and the men and firefighting ships available to fight the fire had to be augmented with reinforcements from nearby port cities, reports local outlet MOPO.
Indeed, big ships create bigger problems. Let this be a lesson for all ports that happily and willingly accept these potential "mega" disasters waiting to happen. Are you prepared for such possibilities? Curious as to how & why hold wasn't closed with hatch top? A similar incident occurred in Seattle with a containership years ago. A firefighter and crane operator had to don SCBA gear to go and close cargo hold after several early attempts to contain fire failed. Are firefighting units at our ports as well trained (and equipped with resources) as they think they really are?
Container ship CCNI ARAUCO fire: Sep 02 Update: fire still on, hold filled with water: the blaze was started by welding work in the hold
Container ship CCNI ARAUCO fire: Sep 02 Update: fire still on, hold filled with water
Sept. 2, 2016 at 13:52 by Mikhail Voytenko
Sep 02 1300 UTC Update: According to latest available information, fire fighting still goes on with fire alert being next to utmost. Hold with burning containers was sealed and filled with CO2 gas in the evening Sep 01, but after that, temperature began to rise again, making impossible the offloading of the containers from the hold. By noon Sep 02 temperature was still too high , fire was still on. It was decided to fill the hold with water up to 70 percent of hold’s volume, though there’s the risk, that hull may crack, due to thermal differential.
Sep 02 0230 UTC Update:
According to available information, fire fighting is still going on, part or all burning containers are in hold, which of course, complicates fire fighting. Tugs are cooling the hull by pouring water on it, temperature inside is so high, that specialist fear hull may crack. It was said, that there were no containers with dangerous goods, either on fire or near fire, but of course, it’s impossible to ascertain at present stage. Three crew understood to be injured, hopefully not seriously, during initial attempts to extinguish fire, all crew said to be evacuated.
Mega container ship CCNI ARAUCO , docked in Hamburg, Burchardkai, reportedly under major fire, after an explosion at around 1300 LT Sept 01, which took place aft, understood in container. Some 80 fire fighting teams said to be deployed.
Photos: Container Ship in Hamburg Harbor Still Burns
Three attempts to extinguish the fire by filling the after hold compartment with CO2 were not successful, and in consultation with the vessel’s operator the firefighting team moved to flood the compartment with water. Responders used water supplied from shore and from the multipurpose emergency response vessel Neuwerk to partially fill the hold through the vents; the hatch covers remained in place.
As of Friday evening, the hold was flooded as much as the vessel's stability would allow, and pumping in more water is not a possibility, the fire department said.
"The next step is a comprehensive foam attack from the water side and the land side . . . it will be redundant so that the foam attack is not interrupted," the agency said in an online update.
The depth of the fire’s location within the hold has added complexity to the response by limiting responders’ ability to access the source.
Emergency services personnel from other cities have joined the effort, including Bremerhaven's specially trained team of 10 marine firefighters.
The Hamburg fire department confirmed that the 1,250 tonnes of dangerous goods on board the Arauco are located well forward and safely away from the blaze.
Authorities believe that the blaze was started by welding work in the hold, which led to the spread of a fire belowdecks. Three workers suffered minor injuries in the fire and were taken to a hospital.