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UNDAC Mission. Port of Djibouti Toxic chemical spill March 2002. Djibouti. Country bordered by Eritrea, Ethi opia and Somalia. Popula tion is approx. 500,000 The Port is the economic centre of the country, and the most important port in the Horn of Africa. The Incident.

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UNDAC Mission

Port of Djibouti

Toxic chemical spill

March 2002


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Djibouti

  • Country bordered by Eritrea,Ethiopia and Somalia.

  • Population is approx. 500,000

  • The Port isthe economic centre ofthe country,and the most importantport inthe Horn of Africa


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The Incident

  • A chemical spill of chromated copper arsenate (CCA) from a total of fifteen sea containers representing 200 tonnes of product

  • CCA is a highly corrosive and toxic wood preservative / fungicide

  • 10 containers arrived in the port on 15 November and discovered leaking on 9 January

  • An additional five leaking containers arrived on 24 January


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Incident Details

  • Containers shipped from the UK destined for Ethiopia

  • Offloaded from a ship in the port of Djibouti for subsequent transport to Ethiopia by road

  • Initial efforts to secure the manage the leak resulted in the contamination of five separate sites in the port area

  • Fortunately, only small quantities of product were lost to the sea, causing negligible impacts



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Humanitarian Concerns -Public Health

  • As many as 500 claim to have been exposed to the product

  • There has been at least one death, though a direct link to chemical exposure has yet to be established

  • Concerns regarding contamination of foodstuffs and exposure of employees at WFP warehouse

  • Fear about drinking bottled water and Coca Cola from nearby facility


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Environmental Concerns

  • Five contaminated sites could result in groundwater contamination and impacts to marine environment

  • Chronic exposure to dust can cause longer term health and environmental impacts

  • Rains (which sometimes occur in early April) will severely widen the area of impact


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Steps Taken

  • An FAO expert was brought in to conduct an assessment in early February

  • Subsequent to the FAO report, the port authority implemented a number of recommendations


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Steps Taken

As per FAO recommendations:

  • Evacuation of all equipment at site 5 (other than trucks and leaking containers)

  • Construction of a fence around site 5

  • Installation of polyethylene sheeting covered with sand to cover leak and contain further leakage at sites 2, 3 and 5

  • Construction of steel trays for leaking containers


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The UNDAC Mission

  • The mission was organized by OCHA with support from the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environmental Emergencies Section

  • The team was composed 2 OCHA Geneva, 1 UNEP staff member (from the Joint Unit) and 1 member from OCHA field office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

  • The team was later joined by a Swiss ecotoxicology expert


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The Role of the Team

  • Assess humanitarian impacts from spill

  • Follow-up assessments of sites further to the implementation of the FAO expert’s recommendations

  • Overall coordination in the wake of the country’s appeal for international assistance

  • Recommendations on immediate response to the leaking containers and remediation of contaminated sites


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Assessment Process

  • Multiple visits to all five sites

  • Extensive interviews with the port management and staff

  • Meetings with Djiboutian national authorities

  • Coordination and cooperation with the UN country team



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Findings

  • The port had implemented virtually all FAO recommendations in order to secure the situation

  • Though contained, the product was still leaking heavily

  • In spite of efforts, there was still widespread panic within the community with respect to health risks.


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Findings

  • Djibouti did not have the technical expertise to manage the situation beyond what had been already undertaken

    • Consequently, the team requested the assistance of an ecotoxicologist / waste management specialist from Geneva to assist

  • Sites 1,2&5 - heavy contamination requiring immediate attention

  • Sites 3&4 - stable with some protective measures recommended


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Site 1 - Hazardous Cargo Container Area



Green stains show clear evidence of contamination from CCA at site 1 where containers were stored from 15 November to 9 January

View of contaminated area from opposite end




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Site 2 - Leaking container area

Staining from CCA and contamination from other hazardous chemicals at site 2


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Site 2 - Leaking container area

Application of sand to contaminated areas of site 2



Evidence of severe contamination from CCA




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Site 5 - Isolation Zone

Five trucks containing 10 leaking containers


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Site 5 - Isolation Zone

Product creeping from under plastic sheeting several metres away from trucks



Close up of leaking product pooling under trucks




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Site 5-Container in Steel Tray

View of one container in a steel tray constructed by the port to contain the leaking product


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Conclusions

  • Djibouti has virtually no capacity to respond to hazardous materials occurrences

  • Port was very proactive in taking necessary actions to secure the situation.

  • Overall lack of prevention, preparedness and awareness

  • Weak disaster management capacity at local/national level


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Conclusions

  • Poor risk communications resulting in continued panic and rumors in the community

  • Several good contingency plans exist but were not activated


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Recommendations

Immediate (as outlined in Action Plan)

  • Stop leaks at site 5

  • Transfer product to new containers

  • Address contamination at sites 1,2 & 5

  • Relocate and establish proper leaking hazardous cargo area - currently site 2

  • Establish a destocking zone to accommodate contaminated waste & soil


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Recommendations

Medium to Long Term

  • Decontamination of non-urgent sites

  • Contingency plans should be updated, disseminated and tested

  • Need for training and proper equipment for handling and responding to hazmat incidents

  • Develop a legal framework for handling and transportation of dangerous goods with Djibouti


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Recommendations

  • Update port procedures so that future leaks are addressed in situ (preventing contamination of multiples sites)

  • Routine inspection of hazardous cargo area at port for early identification of leaks


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Needs Covered

  • Protective equipment (Canton de Genève)

  • Antidotes for for arsenic poisoning (Hôpital Cantonal de Genève)

  • Construction of destocking zone for contaminated soil and waste (UNDP/OCHA)


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Needs Still to be Covered

  • Expert Hazmat team (with appropriate personal protective equipment) for transfer operations.

  • Overpack drums to accommodate leaking containers.


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