Yellow smoke forms after chemical tanker suffers cracked bulkhead

A cracked bulkhead in Dae Won caused nitric acid to leak into waters around Taiwan's Kaohsiung port, resulting in yellow smoke.

A cracked bulkhead caused nitric acid to leak from a chemical tanker into waters around Taiwan’s Kaohsiung port, resulting in yellow smoke as the chemical dissipated into the air.

The incident happened in the morning of 5 June, as Dae Won, a 1998-built 16,466 dwt chemical tanker owned by Jeil International of South Korea, was docked in Kaohsiung, while en route from Ulsan, South Korea, to Thailand. It is not known if Dae Won was loading or discharging cargoes in Kaohsiung.

As the leaking nitric acid cargo came into contact with ballast water in the vessel, yellow smoke billowed from the tanker, alarming nearby residents.

A notice issued by Port of Kaohsiung Taiwan International Ports Corporation said, “The yellow smoke was the result of the nitric acid turning into nitrous oxide as it came into contact with the water and thereafter, dissipated into the air. No one was injured and currently, very little of the nitrous oxide is left. There is no leakage into the water surface so we instructed the vessel to leave the port area and not to discharge the leaking cargo until it is 50 n miles [93 km] from local waters.”

Residents had complained to the local authorities as they feared the yellow smoke was toxic.

Port of Kaohsiung Taiwan International Ports Corporation said that as there were no chemical leakages onto the coast line or sea surface, and the yellow smoke had not caused dangerous levels of air pollution, it will monitor the situation before deciding whether to fine the tanker operator.

IHS Markit’s vessel-tracking data shows that Dae Won had departed Horizon Taeyoung Korea Terminal in Ulsan on 31 May, arriving in Container Terminal No 1 in Kaohsiung on 4 June. The data also shows that since 2018, Dae Won had been chartered to C & C Maritime, a South Korean-owned tanker operator based in Singapore.