Onshore preparedness for hazardous chemical marine vessel accidents: a case study
Illiyas, Faisel T.
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Hazardous and noxious substances (HNS) are widely transported in marine vessels to reach every part of the world. Bulk transportation of hazardous chemicals is carried out in tank container–carrying cargo ships or in designed vessels. Ensuring the safety of HNS containers during maritime transportation is critically important as the accidental release of any substance may be lethal to the on-board crew and marine environment. A general assumption in maritime accidents in open ocean is that it will not create any danger to the coastal population. The case study discussed in this article throws light on the dangers latent in maritime HNS accidents. An accident involving an HNS-carrying marine vessel in the Arabian Sea near the coast of Yemen became a safety issue to the coastal people of Kasargod District of Kerala, India. The ship carried more than 4000 containers, which were lost to the sea in the accident. Six HNS tank containers were carried by the waves and shored at the populated coast of Kasargod, more than 650 nautical miles east from the accident spot. The unanticipated sighting of tank containers in the coast and the response of the administration to the incident, the hurdles faced by the district administration in handling the case, the need for engaging national agencies and lessons learned from the incident are discussed in the article. This case study has proven that accidents in the open ocean have the potential to put the coastal areas at risk if the on-board cargo contains hazardous chemicals. Littoral nations, especially those close to the international waterlines, must include hazardous chemical spills to their oil spill contingency plans