NTSB identifies potential fire hazards for ship operators

NTSB identifies potential fire hazards for ship operators
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Lithium-ion batteries and other potential ignition sources could pose a fire safety issue when shipping scrap as cargo, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said Thursday.

Although scrap cargo is normally non-hazardous and poses a low risk of fire, there have been several recent fires involving such cargo. In January 2022, a coastal pile caught fire in Newark, NJ. Cargo fires erupted on two international ships transporting scrap in 2022, and in 2017 the Japan Transport Safety Board investigated a scrap fire in the hold of a ship in Fukuoka City, Japan.

On May 23, 2022, the tugboat Daisy Mae was towing a loaded scrap barge northbound into Delaware Bay when a fire was discovered aboard the barge. The fire burned for 26 hours before it could be extinguished by incoming fire boats. No injuries or contamination were reported. Damage to the barge was estimated at $7 million.

In a report released Thursday, the NTSB found the likely cause of the fire was ignition of a combustible material from an undetermined source, such as damaged lithium-ion batteries.

Even when supplier acceptance agreements and quality assurance personnel visually inspect scrap, metallic and non-metallic hazardous materials are often present in landside scrap heaps and could be inadvertently loaded onto ships. These often combustible materials increase the risk of fire and can lead to violent fires. Once scrap metal is loaded onto a barge, it is difficult for a tugboat crew to visually inspect the cargo while underway.

To minimize the risk of fire, qualified cargo surveyors can assist the ship’s captain before and during the loading process to limit the presence of hazardous combustible material in the scrap metal. Thermal imaging is also an effective tool for identifying hotspots in scrap shipments at shore facilities.

Source: News Network


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