This type of story is nothing new to those aboard, but is has been slowly making the mainstream media, as three dock workers have been killed in Brazil and Vietnam.
You can read about the cause from Lloyd’s List below. Here, here, and here are some media stories on the subject – mostly focusing on the economic impacts of the crisis, estimated to affect 1000 containers, predominately operated by Maersk, and some by CGM CMA. Here‘s a news report from Seattle discussing the obvious… “hey there’s a potential bomb all over the container yards”.
Consultant Cambridge Refrigeration Technology is assisting Maersk Line with its investigation.
A COUNTERFEIT refrigerant containing methyl chloride is the most likely cause of the explosions in the reefer containers that killed three men who were carrying out maintenance and repairs, and has forced Maersk Line and CMA CGM to ground their reefer boxes.
According to consultants Cambridge Refrigeration Technology, which is assisting Maersk Line with its investigation, material recovered from the exploded units has been analysed and has been found to be corroded by a chlorinated compound. Traces of alumina were also found at the sites.
The methyl chloride contained in the allegedly counterfeit refrigerant blend, which had been added to the systems, reacted with the aluminium in the compressor forming trimethyl aluminium, a liquid at room temperature which ignites spontaneously on contact with air, water and halogenated hydrocarbons.
“The counterfeit refrigerant is labelled as HFC-134a and is being unwittingly added by repairers to refrigeration systems. In fact it is probably a mixture of cheaper gases blended to give the same vapour pressure,” Cambridge Refrigeration Technology said.
The company added that lines need to make sure that refrigerant comes from certified sources and is tested for the presence of chlorine.