Firefighters called in as zinc concentrate self-heats on bulker

Aerial view of the Port of Szczecin. Credit: Poland at Sea

A spokesperson for China Navigation Co Pte Ltd (CNCo) has told SAS that one if its bulk carriers has discharged entirely its zinc sulphide concentrate cargo after earlier concerns that there was a hydrogen leak.

Lintan, a 2015-built 39,641 dwt bulk carrier, had arrived in Szczecin, Poland, on 18 December 2019, loaded with zinc concentrate that is possibly from Malaysia, based on IHS Markit’s AISLive data.

However, around 31 December 2019, after days of discharging the cargo, there were concerns that the cargo had liquefied and was leaking hydrogen, presenting a risk of explosion. The CNCo spokesperson said that zinc sulphide has self-heating properties and may shoulder but stressed that it is not combustible, adding that there was no risk of explosion.

The spokesperson said: “We can confirm a local agent has advised that a local company has reached an agreement with the fire brigade and they have commenced discharge work this morning local time [2 January 2020].

“To ensure that discharge operations are done safely, in agreement with all parties concerned, the vessel’s hold can only be entered by qualified and trained individuals with proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and breathing apparatus for an excavator or Bobcat operations. Constant monitoring is being conducted to check and measure the gas concentrations and temperature at all times until the cargo is fully and safely discharged.”

The spokesperson said that a surveyor and a local P&I correspondent are available on board Lintan to support and guide the master. She said: “Local fire brigades have been monitoring the vessel’s operations since its arrival in Szczecin and CNCo is confident that neither the vessel or the cargo pose a threat to personnel or the environment in the vicinity.”

CNCo is part of Hong Kong conglomerate Swire Group.