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Identify a port that has had a significant issue or problem with safety, an accident, or some other disaster or catastrophe that has effected its operations, safety, and overall rules and regulations associated all ports today. Discuss the issue as well as the solutions or steps taken to alleviate or fix the problem.
Ports are hives of activities where lots of movements occur simultaneously. In larger ports only a limited number of people can possibly discuss real-time activities happening on the ground. Every pier, vessel, crane or truck has their specific mission each day. Laws, Regulations, and Standard Operating Procedures outline practices of running the port business around the clock. Arguably most of the catastrophic accidents at the ports happen due to negligence of those rules.
According to the Bay City News (2022) this April Benicia Port of the great state of California burned for about 24 hours. The cause is still under investigation. However, “electrical and mechanical causes haven’t been ruled out as possible causes of the fire” (Bay City News 2022). This indicates that there is another possibility of accident due to negligence or simple “shortcut” taken to the existing regulations.
In her report of the accident Fusec (2022) quoted the Baykeeper Executive Director stating “Fossil fuels are dirty and dangerous every step of the way—from drilling, to processing and transporting, to burning for fuel. The fire at the Port of Benicia could have been much, much worse, and we’re thankful that no lives were lost in the incident. Baykeeper will continue to monitor the site and engage with its operators, and if there are plans to reopen the port, we will advocate for stronger measures to protect the health of the Bay and its communities from the potential risks posed by dirty fuels like petcoke.” (Fusec 2022)
Hazardous Materials handling and transportation is probably one of the most meticulously prescribed laws around the globe. Some of them followed local others accepted worldwide. Following them usually guarantee the highest level of safety of the workers as well as successful operations of the port. All know that “fossil fuels are dirty” from top to bottom. But, safe handling of those commodities are possible and proven. Even though operations at the Benicia Port are suspended due to the fire, thankfully no one died. in my view, strict adherence to the existing rules and regulations, application of the historical lessons learned to the practices could contribute to safe practices at the ports.
Fusec (2022). Benicia fire chief releases statement on cause of port fire. Retrieved from https://patch.com/california/benicia/benicia-fire-chief-releases-statement-cause-port-fire
Bay city news (2022). Benicia port fore deemed unintentional in nature. Retrieved from https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/north-bay/benicia-port-fire-deemed-unintentional-in-nature/2861991/
With the amount of traffic and different types of cargo that ports worldwide see daily, safety must be at the forefront of policy and framework. This will ensure the safety of those working on the port and the safety of the community that surrounds the ports. An unfortunate accident that recently occurred helps highlight the importance of ensuring ports and local authorities have the correct safety protocols in place.
Looking back to the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic we see one of the most recent devastating blasts (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). In August of 2020, roughly 2,750 tons of Ammonium Nitrate ignited due to an uncontrolled fire (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). The explosion killed 220 people, injured more than 6,500 people, and caused extensive damage to nearby areas (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). The blast created 140-meter-wide crater and set off a residual earthquake (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). The blast and following earthquake left 333,000 people homeless, damaged nine local hospitals, and left a tremendous economic burden in excess of six billion dollars (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Given the chemical detonations significant impact not only on the supply chain, but also the community, studies and research provided several recommendations to enable governments and policymakers (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). The analysis provided a starting point for building frameworks and regulations that incorporate chemical safety protocols (Al-Hajj et al., 2021).
Following this massive chemical explosion much work needed to be done to ensure appropriate solutions were in place to mitigate such tragic accidents from occurring again. These solutions included hazard materials regulations and storage requirements, hospital disaster preparedness, and emergency response (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Looking at hazard storage requirements, the need for a national Chemical Regulatory Agency was evident to assist all ports with the implementation of chemical safety measures along with preventive strategies (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Port managers need to ensure chemicals are stored correctly and away from other materials that could cause any dangerous reactions with any hazardous materials (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Next, we saw the need for improved hospital disaster preparedness. Given that this blast occurred while hospitals were already at their limits with COVID-19 patients and several hospitals were damaged, an emergency response plan that deals with mass casualty events is required (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Lastly, we saw the need for improved emergency response. The Port of Beirut significantly lacked proper emergency response for chemical spills which did not enable first responders to avoid toxic exposures (Al-Hajj et al., 2021). Proper management plans that cover communication and coordination across all entities will help ensure that the appropriate response is taking place in the future, which can help reduce adverse actions from a lack of preparedness, as seen with the Port of Beirut chemical blast (Al-Hajj et al., 2021).
Al-Hajj, S., Dhaini, H. R., Mondello, S., Kaafarani, H., Kobeissy, F., & DePalma, R. G. (2021). Beirut ammonium nitrate blast: Analysis, review, and recommendations. Frontiers in Public Health, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.657996
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