Third leaking poison container recovered
27 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — Dutch salvage company Multraship has recovered the third and final cargo container that fell from an Ethiopian ship during a wild storm last month. Multraship has confirmed the latest container recovered was leaking poison into the North Sea.
The three containers were lost from cargo ship Andinet on 21 December and previous salvage attempts were postponed due to bad weather. The containers were probably carrying a poison called arsenic pentoxide, a chemical used as a pesticide and for wood preservation.
The other two containers — the first of which was recovered a week ago and the second on Monday morning — were also leaking. The Department of Public Works and Water Management is conducting tests to confirm what the leaking substance is.
The department also took sea samples to determine if major environmental damage had occurred, but confirmed on Tuesday that the amount of poison which was spilled when the first container was salvaged did not present cause for concern.
Water samples taken several dozen metres from the recovery site at the time of the salvage indicate a small concentration of the poison had been leaked into the sea. Tests conducted 150m away did not show a higher concentration, the department said.
A total of 63 drums of poison were also lost from the Andinet and the Dutch navy has so far failed to locate them, news agency ANP reported on Monday night.
A department of water management spokesman, Sjon Huisman, said it is important that the drums are found. “We must prevent them from leaking. We must remove the uncertainty,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Amsterdam Public Prosecution Office (OM) is not convinced that the container leaks were the result of an accident and has raised suspicions that the containers were dumped with intent. The OM has questioned the ship captain and will continue inquiries against the ship owner.
Environment lobby group North Sea Foundation has previously raised concerns about the lost cargo and possible environmental damage. It urged for the quick recovery of the containers, which were lost just north of the Dutch island of Texel.
But the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry did not place a fishing ban on the region where the containers were lost. It issued a negative fishing warning instead, but some fishers have reportedly operated in the affected region.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news