Contaminated cargo

A marine chemist carried out routine testing of a cargo of methanol when a vessel docked for discharge.

This routine procedure involved drawing samples from each of the tanks. From each of these samples composite samples were made up and tested for chlorides. The initial reading was ‘off-spec’ which was not unusual. The second composite tested as ‘on-spec’ and therefore discharging commenced.

After 10 hours of discharging, another sample was taken from the shore side tanks which showed that both tanks were ‘off-spec’.

As a result, the marine chemist received a claim from the shipper for the amount of USD 850,000. The ship owners and manager were also named in the legal action.

ITIC instructed lawyers to defend the marine chemist and investigations found that the ship had cracks and leaks in the pipe work, which could have contributed to the contamination. This was confirmed by an independent surveyor.

An expert in marine chemistry was also appointed by ITIC’s lawyers, to carry out a full report of the procedures undertaken by the original chemist.

Unfortunately, the experts found that the equipment used was not calibrated correctly which led to the improper sampling of the cargo. The chemist agreed with this conclusion, so lawyers were instructed to try to resolve the case on the best possible terms.

After protracted legal discussions the case settled for USD 300,000. Legal costs totalled USD 207,000, which ITIC also paid.

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