Proceedings Of The Marine

SPR 2015

Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.

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59 Spring 2015 Proceedings In January 1992, a vessel lost 21 containers in heavy seas, while en route from the Port of New York to the Port of Bal- timore, Maryland. Out of that number, four lost containers contained arsenic trioxide. The Atlantic Strike Team was tasked with supporting the search and recovery for the lost containers, and the vessel continued its voyage and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. Meanwhile, Down in Cargo Hold 1 As it was unloading additional cargo, Marine Safety Offce Charleston inspection team members boarded the vessel and discovered a thick, grayish powder on a cargo hold deck. A drum in the area read "magnesium phosphide," which produces highly poisonous and flammable phos- phine gas when exposed to moisture. In response, the captain of the port (COTP) ordered all oper- ations shut down and contacted the product manufacturer for advice on the best way to mitigate the situation. When the manufacturer's representative arrived on the scene, he confrmed that the powder was magnesium phosphide, and stated that the best means to neutralize the powder was "wet" deactivation — to place it in water where it would react and "bubble off" the phosphine gas. Responders sprinkled a small amount of this substance into 55-gallon drums of water to test this method, and the expected bubbling occurred. How- ever, things were about to change. As personnel continued the test, a small lump of the substance about the size of a sugar cube hit the water, and a large fame erupted. Given the violent reaction, the COTP ordered the ship to anchorage, evacu- ated all nonessential crew, and called the Gulf Strike Team. At the time, I was Gulf Strike Team commanding offcer. The conversation went something like: "We're having quite a party up here. You wanna come up?" The Gulf Strike Team Joins the Party In sum, the COTP requested that we provide a full situation assessment, evaluate potential issues with other cargo on the vessel, develop and evaluate possible mitigation strate- gies, and provide documentation support for federal expen- ditures. It was going to be one heck of a party. The Gulf Strike Team brought its chemical response trailer along with additional logistics and personnel support from the Atlantic and Pacifc teams. While the Atlantic team was still searching for the lost arsenic trioxide containers off the New Jersey coast and was manpower-low, they still pro- vided personnel to support the Charleston response. We integrated the various strike team members into a uni- fed force and got to work. First of all, the magnesium phos- phide was not listed on the vessel's dangerous cargo mani- fest, which raised serious questions as to what was on the vessel. We could see, through binoculars, large amounts of Keeping It Safe Strike Force members collaborate to clean a poisonous substance. by Mr. J. J. KicHner, P.e. Principal KSEAS, LLC HAZMAT Response The vessel arrives in the port of Baltimore with a 40-foot container dangling off the side. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

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