SLPA successfully mitigates nitric acid leak on ship

Monday, 2 August 2021 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MV Seaspan Lahore’s container being re-worked after chemical leak at the dangerous cargo area of the SAGT of the Port of Colombo. Also pictured are SLPA Chairman Capt. Nihal Keppetipola, Harbour Master Capt. Nirmal Silva, SAGT CEO Romesh David, and Hapag-Llloyd Lanka CEO Lalith Witanachchi


The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) took successful measures to quell a chemical leak from a container onboard MV Seaspan Lahore at Colombo Port on 29 July. 

This vessel, which was sailing from the Indian Port of Mundra to Colombo carrying containers, detected a leak from a container carrying nitric acid in drums. This container was to be discharged at an African port after Colombo. 

The detection was made six hours after the vessel’s departure from Mundra. The captain of the ship belonging to M/S Hapag-Lloyd immediately notified local agents M/S Hapag-Lloyd Lanka and the agents notified the SLPA Habour Master and the container terminal, SAGT. Thereafter, a thorough study was made of the storage plan and the commodities in the adjacent containers on board the ship by the SLPA Chairman and the Habour Master. Then it was decided to berth the vessel and discharge and rework the good order barrels of nitric acid into a fresh container for onward carriage. There were 650 drums of nitric acid in the container. 

“When notified of the decision, Ports and Shipping Minister Rohitha Abeygunawardena gave me his blessings to carry on, and I thank him very much for the confidence placed in me,” said SLPA Chairman Capt. Nihal Keppetipola. Had the reworking been delayed by one more day, there certainly would have been a chance of a fire onboard. He said the bottom of the container had already partially perished. He said SLPA was capable, with experienced officers, and geared to handle such situations, and had successfully handled several similar occasions in the past. 

“It is only possible if the local agent of the ship informs the SLPA well in advance,” the SLPA Chairman said. 

The reworking was completed successfully with the port fire brigade standing by and with the assistance and participation of SLPA officials and crew, SAGT officials, Hapag-Lloyd Lanka officials, and the personnel from Hamka Shipping who were specialised in the operation. 

Capt. Nihal Keppetipola thanked Harbour Master Capt. Nirmal Silva and his staff,  SAGT CEO Romesh David, and Hapag-Llloyd Lanka CEO Lalith Witanachchi, who all contributed to preventing a possible catastrophe.


 MV Seaspan Lahore successfully suppressed a chemical leak in a container