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Eline Enterprise

Name
Eline Enterprise
Accident date
26/01/2012
Location
Australia
Accident area
Darwin Port
Spill area
Inshore
Cause of spill
Weather conditions
Product transported
Ethylene gas in containers
Nature of pollutant
Ethylene gas
Ship / structure type
Container ship (364 TEU)
Built date
1998
Length
100.00 m
Width
16.00 m

The accident

On the 26th January 2012 (Australia Day), the container ship Eline Enterprise signalled to Darwin Harbour Control that it was in difficulty. A leak of ethylene gas, an extremely flammable product, was reported as a result of containers becoming dislodged in rough seas. Furthermore the vessel had steering problems and risked running aground.

Securing the vessel

The search for a safe anchorage area began. Once a suitable site had been found, technical experts from Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Services were contacted to assess the risks generated by the leaking ethylene gas and the other containers aboard. An aerial and marine exclusion zone was established. Firstly, the undamaged containers were removed by Svitzer Salvage and as soon as the potential dangers were under control the vessel was directed to a Toll facility in Frances Bay.

Removal of the containers
Removal of the containers

Chemical risks

The damaged containers were placed on a barge at anchor to facilitate controlled venting of the gas (nitrogen purge). They were brought ashore once all the risks for the population and the environment had been eliminated. As is often the case, management of the response was made difficult due to the large number of players: the ship's owner, P&I club, charterer, the owner's of the containers etc. The incident highlights the difficulty in controlling an invisible pollutant (ethylene gas) which poses a strong risk of explosion and the overall complexity of managing pollution risks from chemical products. This, apparently minor, incident finally took a month to be managed, including 10 days of contract negotiations with companies for the cargo recovery operations.

Last update: 04/10/2013

External links

SPILLCON 2013,Presentation by Ian Niblock, Darwin Port Corporation

Annual report 2011-2012, AMSA, See pages 20 and 51

Port de Darwin, Press releases

Marine traffic, Information on the vessel