TRANSFERING OF SLUDGE INTO HOLDING TANKS
The ship bunkered poor quality fuel and it had the problem with purifier. Purifier was unable to cope up. The sludge tank was getting filled up very fast and also the high water content alarm was coming frequently. The sludge tank was emptied into bilge holding tank. The ship was making short voyages in Europe. After two days, the C/E by passed the alarm and kept purifier running. He left instructions to monitor the sludge tank sounding, while transferring. This was ignored by juniors. The ship was almost coasting, and it was to call at a port, next day.
In the midnight, while transferring the sludge around 0030 hrs, the sounding was not monitored, the oil came out through the air vent of the bilge holding tank, spilling on the deck and also on to the bulkheads due to the heavy wind. Some oil spray must have gone onto the sea also, but no claim was made.At 0400 hrs, when chief cook came on to the deck, he found the oil spill and he raised an alarm. The ship was stopped, and all cleaning done, before proceeding.
It took nearly 6 hrs for thorough cleaning.Had the sludge tank could be emptied into a slop tank or some other tank, this incident could have been averted. Since the ship was coasting, incinerator could not be operated. Also it is imperative, the tank soundings have to be monitored whenever transfer takes place.
UDAYA BHANU SHETTY