Will look to prevent large steel objects from blowing into harbour
Following a second incident involving an empty shipping container finding its way into St. John’s harbour in a little more than a week, Oceanex intends to review its policies for securing such items.
Following a second incident involving an empty shipping container finding its way into St. John’s harbour in a little more than a week, Oceanex intends to review its policies for securing such items. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
“Normally, they’re blocked in, and we had gusts up to 89 knots there yesterday,” said Oceanex executive chairman Capt. Sid Hynes. “We had the terminal shut down actually. It was so much wind. It’s not a normal event, but it happens. We’re looking at new ways of blocking them in as much as we can, but at the end of the day, when seven-tonne containers get blown around by the wind, there’s not a lot you can do about it.”
A peak wind gust of 117 kilometres per hour was recorded on Thursday. A crane was used to lift the container out of the water after it was towed across the harbour.
Approximately 3,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) are moved through Oceanex’s St. John’s terminal on a weekly basis, according to Hynes. Thursday’s incident was not an isolated one, as another empty container found its way into the harbour eight days earlier. Strong winds were also reported that day.
Hynes said it is in Oceanex’s best interest to prevent such incidents from recurring, as the process of retrieving the shipping containers costs thousands of dollars.
“You’ve got to go recover it. You’ve got to get the crane to lift it out. You’ve got to use the boats and a bunch of people. It’s like anything. It costs money.”
Hynes said procedures to prevent containers from blowing away have proven to be effective in the past but will require re-evaluation in light of recent events. Tying them on to one another would not be practical, he explained, as the containers are transient and frequently moved.
“It’s a continuous movement of containers in and out,” said Hynes.
As for safety, Hynes said there are no issues at play for the company’s employees, as terminal activity ceases when strong winds are gusting. He said nobody was working at the pier when the empty container entered the harbour.
“If it’s not safe to work, we don’t work, so it’s not a safety issue whatsoever.”