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12.07.2005 General News

TOR blamed for negligence leading to fire outbreak


Accra, July 12, GNA - The Government's White Paper on the Good Friday PSC Tema Shipyard and Drydock fire outbreak has criticised the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) Security for negligence of duty, which resulted in extensive damage.

The Report said apart from the fact that TOR's Security were not diligent enough on that day to detect the spillage on time, they did not appear to have acted promptly when information was relayed to them by occupiers of the harbour on the event.

The White Paper, which was presented by Professor Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi, Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways indicated that prior to the fire outbreak, Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) embarked on the flushing of its pipelines including their "014" pipelines for maintenance works to be carried out from March 25.

When TOR carried out the tendency for the pipelines to explode tests on March 25, they showed 100 per cent positive results. TOR, therefore, decided to suspend the maintenance works, which would have involved hot works, and rather did a re-flushing of the lines from the refinery towards the sea.

The Report said in the course of the re-flushing, petroleum products spilled from the pipelines into the sea and drifted to the Slipway/Wooden Jetty area of the Dry-dock where the Polaris Vessel was berthed.

It indicated that though crew/workmen, engaged by owners of the MV Polaris did not acquire Hot Works Permit or Certificate from the PSC Shipyard's Safety Inspector, welding works were in progress on the vessel when the fire broke out.

It said when PSC Security men noticed that the petroleum spillage on the sea had reached the slipway and surrounded the vessel they asked the wielders to stop work but they refused and went ahead. The Report blamed the PSC for allowing the vessel MV Polaris to remain at the slipway to carry out the hot works even though hot works certificates were not issued for the welding works.

"PSC Shipyard did not comply with or follow its own security and safety regulations and did not also enforce it against MV Polaris", the Reported said.

On Good Friday, March 25, there was a fire outbreak at the PSC Tema Shipyard and Dry-dock when a vessel MV Polaris caught fire resulting in the loss of 18 human lives and extensive damage to property valued at about 80 billion cedis.

A seven-member committee chaired by Nana Owusu-Nsiah, Immediate Past Inspector-General of Police, was set up by the Government to investigate the incident and to make appropriate recommendations.