Interesting call stories - December 2022

Interesting call stories - December 2022
02 December 2022

Spontaneous combustion risk on a cargo ship

The captain of a cargo ship required safety advice after finding a malfunction with the cooling unit of a refrigerated container (reefer) containing an n-butyllithium solution. The caller wanted to know if he should be concerned about the effects of a temperature rise on the products contained, and what the crew should be aware of in the event of incident. They were out at sea, a long way from any ports.

The Emergency Responder (ER) made the caller aware of the product’s hazards with specific attention to its flammability and the potential for spontaneous combustion when the product contacted air or water. On review of the safety data sheet (SDS), advise to store the product between -15°C and 20°C was noted, as well as the boiling point of the solvent which was listed as between 65 – 70°C.

The ER advised that the contents of the reefer would unlikely reach temperatures that would result in packaging or containment failures. Therefore, as long as there was no ingress of air or moisture, safety would be maintained until the ship reached port. Following this, we were able to connect the captain with our customer’s technicians to understand what action could be taken to rectify the equipment fault.


A less-than-pleasant lunchtime meal

We received a call from a concerned member of the public after they had taken a bite from a sandwich that tasted strange. They had discovered from talking to the café owners that an employee had rubbed solid disinfectant tablets on the lettuce that was in the sandwich instead of dissolving them in water before washing the leaves. Luckily the caller had no serious symptoms of discomfort at the time of the call but was complaining of a funny taste in their mouth.

The ER advised that the product was an irritant and recommended the caller to wash their mouth with water to remove any residues. The caller had since left the café and only had a bottle of milk to hand. We advised that whilst this was fine initially, they would be best placed to find a public restroom or bottle of water to rinse the product out more thoroughly. Following this, the caller should also drink about 100 – 200 mL of water.

As the caller had only been exposed to a small amount of the product, the ER reassured them that it would be unlikely that they would come to any serious harm. However, if they were concerned or developed any symptoms, they should seek medical attention and the doctor was welcome to call the emergency line if they required any further information.


Supporting our customers to carry on

A tanker driver spoke to an NCEC ER after noticing a small leak from loading valve whilst parked at a rest stop. Our ER advised that the chemical in transport, n-Heptanoic acid, was corrosive on contact to skin and eyes and could cause toxic and irritant effects on inhalation. The driver should use the equipment and PPE carried in their cab to cordon off the area, and quickly and safely place a clean bucket under the valve to contain the dripping liquid.

Whilst the situation was stable, the ER spoke to our client to give them awareness of the incident and begin coordinating an onsite response to fix the leak. The driver’s quick actions, under the guidance of our ER, limited any harm to people and the environment following this release. Subsequently, our rapid notification to key contacts within our client’s organisation allowed the fault to be fixed and shipment to continue as scheduled. Our support helped to limit any commercial impact to our client or their customer.