Actions to Ensure Safety of Refrigerated Container Transport
7 November, 2011
Maersk Line has grounded 844 refrigerated containers following three serious accidents in 2011. Safe operations have been restored and we believe we have isolated the root cause of the problem.
Of the 230,000 total reefer containers in the Maersk Line fleet, we have now grounded 844 of them as we suspect these containers may contain contaminated coolant fluid. Refrigerated containers exploded on three separate occasions this year in Itajai, Brazil and Cat Lai, Vietnam. Maersk Line is working with APM Terminals to investigate the causes of these incidents.
We identified that the malfunctioning containers underwent gas system repairs and maintenance at the same repair yard in Vietnam between 30 March 2011 and 25 April 2011. Early investigations appear to confirm suspicions that the cause of the explosions was contaminated gas in the cooling units.
It is our belief that there may be a link between these and various similar incidents experienced by other container lines at other repair yards in Vietnam. As a result Maersk Line informed the World Shipping Council about our suspicions on 18 October 2011. We have urged the Council to ask all members to immediately share all information about any similar incidents.
Having isolated the most likely root cause of the problem, Maersk Line has taken all possible precautionary measures to ensure that refrigerated container transport is safe. As an extra precaution this includes grounding any containers that have had repairs or maintenance to the gas system while in any location in Vietnam since 1 February 2011.
All employees on shore and at sea, business partners, customers and relevant authorities have been notified. Vessel crews, depot and terminal operators have been given specific instructions on how to handle and store them safely. All other precautions to ensure safety have been taken. Safety, as always, remains the number one priority.
Statement Søren Toft, Vice President, Operations for Maersk Line showed a determination to get to the bottom of things:
“We have taken all precautionary measures including grounding 844 refigerated units. Refigerated transport is safe. We have also engaged experts to ensure a full and thorough investigation. Every indication is that proper procedures were adhered to by our employees. We also know other container lines have had similar incidents with refrigerated containers also repaired in Vietnam but at different repair yards, so we’re working with the World Shipping Council to quickly gather and share all information to ensure we’re all taking the right measures."
"Maersk Line takes its duty of care towards its employees, customers and the public extremely seriously. Both as a company, and as individuals within the company, we know that any loss of life is tragic. We reported these incidents at the time and we have done everything we can since then to maintain the highest safety standards."
All media inquiries to Michael Christian Storgaard, Press Officer (+45 3363 3534).