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General News of Saturday, 9 July 2011

Source: GNA

Engineer drowns in crude oil storage tank

Accra, July 9, GNA - Mr John K. Asemaku, Third Engineer on MT Bonsu-Q, a crude oil storage vessel, got drowned in one of the tanks when he attempted to fix a decoupled hose to a pumping machine on Thursday.

A statement from Saltpond Offshore Producing Company Limited (SOPCL), owners of MT Bonsu-Q, said: 93As is usual during the rainy season, the seas have been very rough lately and as a result the roll of the MT Bonsu-Q has been significantly higher."

It said due to the roll, some quantity of crude oil flowed into the forward peak tanks of MT Bonsu-Q and in order to pump this crude oil back to the main cargo holds the forward peak tanks covers were opened on the 4th of July 2011 so as to vent the tank and evacuate the gas present.

The statement said: 93This tank is designed in two chambers; an upper, and a lower chamber where the crude oil was lodged.

It said at an operational meeting held in the morning of 7th July 2011, Mr Asemaku, who was also the Crew Technical Head, decided to commence pumping the crude oil back to the main tanks with a diaphragm pump.

Two out of the three members of the team objected to the operation due to the intensity of the gas present in the area and asked for more time to allow the tank to vent properly.

Mr Asemaku over ruled his colleagues and went ahead with Mr James Duncan, the Pump Man, to commence discharging the crude oil from the tank in question.

The statement said Mr Asemaku initially succeeded in installing the discharge hose to the pump before coming back up to surface. The hose disconnected after some time and he went back into the tank a second time to fix the hose.

When the hose failed again he asked Mr Duncan to enter the tank to continue to try and rectify the problem with the hose as he was tired but he refused and told him that it was still not safe to enter the tank.

Mr Asemaku then went in the third time and on sensing the strong presence of gas started scrambling up to the surface but "unfortunately, he was overwhelmed by the gas and fell off the ladder into the tank of crude oil".

"The crew mobilized another diaphragm pump and pumping is in progress to recover the body, the statement said.

Superintendent Emmanuel O. Narh Odonkor, Mfantsiman Municipal Police Commander, confirmed to the GNA that Mr Prince Osei Baffour, a Security Officer of SOPCL, came to report the incident to the Police.

He said the Company was in the process of pumping out the crude oil to retrieve the body after which the Police would take possession of it and send it to the morgue for autopsy.

Supt. Odonkor said Police investigations have started and early indications point to an industrial accident. The body has since been retrieved.