NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE
You may have forgotten the MV Parida (pictured below) we haven’t!
It was a Danish registered ro-ro cargo vessel on passage from Scrabster in Scotland to Antwerp, Belgium carrying nuclear waste when it caught fire in October 2014.
We raised the accident at the time with UK and Danish authorities. We also drew the attention of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the incident.
Now the nuclear material on board was ‘low grade’ but nonetheless it was nuclear material.
The incident at the time was exacerbated by the vessels proximity to a North Sea gas platform which was evacuated because of the danger. Indeed the vessel came within 9 nautical miles of the platform before the incident was contained.
We have now studied in some detail the report by Danish authorities which was published some months ago.
The first thing that is apparent is that very quick action by the Officers and crew on board in first detecting the fire and then fighting it in very difficult sea conditions are to be commended.
However there are worrying elements to the incident. The fire was fortunately detected visually there is no clear evidence that a fire alarm functioned. The UK Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre’s became aware of the incident from agents for the shipping company so (unless we have missed something) no mayday or distress was immediately sent.
The United Kingdom Emergency Towing Vessel was not sufficiently close to assist (we have highlighted the deficiency in ETV cover since MCA changes forced by UK government cuts five years ago). A tug charted by the company did take control of the vessel but only after the ships crew at some risk to themselves had slowed the ships drift with anchors.
UK authorities played down the incident at the time but the conclusion of the Danish MAIB report pull no punches saying:
“The fire has demonstrated how a rather small and well-handled fire could result in the potential for a larger disaster. A minor malfunction in a pressure gauge caused a fire that triggered the loss of propulsion. The on board conditions interacted with the environmental conditions and created a risk of allision (sic) with BEATRICE ALPHA. Thereby, the accident illustrates how a small everyday malfunction of a technical component can have propagating effects. Furthermore, it establishes that there is not necessarily proportionality between accidental events and their consequences.”
A full copy of the Danish MAIB accident report can be found here:
Celtic League correspondence and releases at the time can be found here;
The issue was the subject of an AGM resolution at the Celtic League AGM in March 2015 (links):
We remain of the view that if there is a need to carry nuclear waste by sea (high, intermediate or low grade) it should be carried by vessels purpose built for the job with the necessary back up systems and resilience built in.
Issued by: The Celtic News
THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.
The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues