Thursday, 1 December 2011

Trafigura: Not the Whole Truth 1 – Smell


In this first of a series of, hopefully, short posts I will highlight areas where Trafigura, or those whose writing is supportive of them, does not tell the whole truth.  There will be truth, possibly a lot of truth, in the statements I look at but all is not as it seems. [UPDATE: added 21.30 on 3 Dec 2011: I don’t allege that the ‘Not the Whole Truth’s are deliberate.]

Today I look at a statement from Trafigura’s 38 page document, “Trafigura and the Probo Koala”.

The second sentence of the document – on page 4 after the index – states:

“The vessel carried out a procedure for caustic washing on several cargoes of one such product, coker naphtha, and needed to discharge a relatively small amount of residual waste (often referred to as ‘slops’).”

Truthful?   Yes! 

The whole truth?  No!

Waste accrued from the normal operations on board ship is called ‘slops’ but waste from caustic washing is called ‘spent caustic’ or as a Trafigura employee called it, ‘toxic caustic’.

The difference in terminology is not simply semantic.


According to the NFI Report, upon which Trafigura has relied to support its views,

“The waste water from the Probo Koala was accepted by APS as low-risk material.”

but it wasn’t “low-risk”.


There were complaints of a “bad smell”, “irritating smell” and “stench”. 

Where did this smell come from?  The Probo Koala and its spent caustic waste.

How do I know this? 

The NFI Report .… again [I have appended the relevant part of the NFI Report at the end of the post but should you want to read the whole report you can find it here where I put it online]


but Trafigura doesn’t tell us about the smell!


Not the whole truth !




This section below is copied from the Introduction to the NFI Report

The following information has been obtained from the reporting officer: 1
In response to serious complaints of a bad smell on the morning of 3rd July 2006, in the vicinity of the petroleum dock in Amsterdam’s western port area, among other places, the fire brigade carried out an investigation into the source and presumed cause of the smell.

At around 11:00 that day, the fire brigade established that the irritating smell was being caused by Amsterdam Port Services (APS). Gases with a mercaptan smell were emanating from the DAF (Dissolved Air Flotation) installation (a component of water purification) and possibly from acceptance tank 9 at the APS site. According to APS’s internal analysis forms and day logs it appears
that that morning 316 m3 of waste water from acceptance tank 9 (hereinafter also ‘Tank 9’) were being processed in the DAF. It was established by APS employees that there were more than 500 ppm hydrogen sulphide (H2S) present in the DAF.

It was established that, from 2:30 onwards on 3rd July, approx. 500 m3 waste water was unloaded from collection vessel Main VII into APS’s Tank 9. The load was sampled at approx. 2:00, and while samples were being taken from the starboard and port tanks 1 and 3 of Main VII APS employees complained about the stench coming from the sample flasks. The content of the starboard and port tanks 1 and 3 of Main VII appears to have come from the marine vessel Probo Koala.

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