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Intertanko calls on authorities to crack down on contaminated bunker suppliers

A critical review by Intertanko of the damage caused to hundreds of ships through contaminated bunkers supplied over the past five months, has slammed the inaction by government authorities on the issue and demanded that fuel blenders and suppliers be required to fully warrant the quality of their fuels.

Based on its members’ reports, Intertanko noted that since the issue first emerged at Houston area ports in January, further deliveries of such contaminated fuel have spread to some Caribbean ports in April, followed by the first deliveries in Malaysia and Singapore later the same month.

“We fear that this will become a global epidemic with the possibility of disastrous events,” the global association of independent tanker owners warned. “It is not acceptable that months after initial deliveries and months after problems were reported, there has been no action that we are aware of to initiate an investigation,” Intertanko said.

It further noted that other than advisories from fuel testing laboratories, the only official information from an authority has been the Marine Safety Alert issued by the US Coast Guard, There has been no public sign of action by any authority as a matter of urgency to a) stop the continuing supply of contaminated fuels, b) investigate its origins and c) initiate corrective actions so that it does not re-occur, Intertanko added.

Read More: USCG warns on fuel contamination in US Gulf

Lamenting “the complete lack of interest by official/governmental/authority to address these serious safety problems”, INTERTANKO said it felt impelled to at least initiate a public debate, adding that the “lack of action after so many months following such huge safety risk” has left it with no other option.

Quoting one of its members who said: “The industry has to voice its deep concerns on this most likely criminal act, beat the media drums and start to provoke a mindset change on the side of the bunker industry people”, the association added there was also a need “to provoke a mindset change on governments and authorities”.

It reiterated: “We are of the view that governments and authorities should investigate these fuel contamination cases and take appropriate actions, including giving serious fines together with restitution for the ships impacted.”

Noting that similar incidents of contaminated fuels being supplied to ships from the same ports in the Houston area had occurred in 2007 and 2013, Intertanko said authorities should not have been surprised and believes that “authorities and governments must take action and assume their responsibilities, at least to set up and oversee investigation mechanisms in case fuels delivered in their ports expose ships, their crews and the environment to serious risks”.

“Until the fuel supply industry and the authorities accept their share of responsibility, there is an obvious need for more public awareness in the media. A purely legal approach will not change the mindset of those who might deliberately put our crews, the environment, the ships and their cargoes in serious danger,” Intertanko concluded.

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