Some 1,500 tons of chemicals aboard a bulk carrier will be dumped at sea off the west coast, the SA Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said on Thursday.
The chemicals, the nature of which has not been disclosed, will be released Sunk in more than 3 km of water 250 km offshore.
The cargo is on board the NS Qingdao, which left the port of Durban in November when it began emitting toxic fumes.
p>< p>The ship was escorted to a safe anchorage off St. Helena Bay so it could vent its hatches offshore.
More than 1,000 tons of its cargo was removed and Samsa said it got an emergency permit from the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment to dump the rest in the sea. This is expected to happen by March 15.
“The vessel has no apparent structural damage and will return to the nearest port after dumping is complete and the cargo is stabilized. An investigation will be conducted to determine the reason for the cargo reaction,” Samsa said.
“Structure specialists will conduct an assessment to ensure the integrity of the ship is intact before delivering it to its destination let it sail.”
Samsa said the dumping operation was weather dependent and “highest safety standards” would be followed.
The 57,000 dwt NS Qingdao was built in 2011 and flies the flag underwater of the Marshall Islands. It arrived in Durban from Gwangyang, South Korea, in mid-October and was evacuated to the sheltered anchorage under the escort of the tugboat Umkhuseli about a month later.
“The ship has a full team of salvors, chemical experts, hazmat teams and others Emergency personnel on board to safely manage operations in accordance with established emergency protocols.
“Cargo is dumped, chemically neutralized and landed in a safe and controlled manner at an approved landfill site . The ship poses no immediate threat to the marine environment and people.”