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Precis File
SHIP NAME: Nego Kim KEY: NUM. ENTRIES: 2
source Hong Kong Marine Dept
type D
volume
material
dead 8
link http://www.mardep.gov.hk/en/publication/mai011118.html

While at anchor awaiting instruction to enter port, the crew engaged in cleaning and painting the No 1 port topside ballast tank as part of an ongoing maintenance program. The tank had been opened some days previous to the accident so the crew could clean the tank and prepare the surfaces for painting. On the day of the accident, the Mate tested the tank for oxygen levels a few times and found them to be 21%. There was no gas detector on board. The tank was ventilated using a fan blowing air through a manhole, and a compressed air line situated in the tank. A cargo light was used to to illuminate the work area. The epoxy paint with thinners was applied using a spray gun with the reservoir situated exterior on the open deck. The paint contained more than 30% thinners. After approximately 2 hours of painting, there was an explosion which blew the tank apart. Five crew members died and three were missing.

The ignition source could not be determined but was probably the cargo light.


source CTX
type D
volume
material
dead 8
link

The cargo light was not intrinsically safe nor explosion proof.

HK report is probably right, but photos indicate lots of energy released. Where did all that energy come from? Must have been the thinner. Why weren't the sprayers overcome by fumes before they reached flammable concentration? Probably the sprayers were working from the top down, and the thinner vapor which is heavier than air accumulated in the bottom of the tank. This could also have been the area with the least ventilation, and the area most likely to be missed by the Mate's O2 checks. Of course, since he wasn't supplied with a hydrocarbon meter, there was no way he could really check for HC vapor.

The amount of thinner was at least six times the max recommended by the paint vendors. (There should be none.) It is ironic that with this much thinner, the coating life would have been very sort.