Namport Sticks to Rules in Handling Dangerous Goods

NAMPORT said it handles dangerous goods according to international codes and the Namibian law, and would not allow such goods to leave the port without strict control.

The chief executive officer, Bisey Uirab, said this when he countered recent media reports and public suspicions that the company did not have the necessary facilities and policies to handle and store dangerous goods – and that there were in fact incidents where dangerous products (even nuclear waste) were being stored in and around Walvis Bay.

Uirab said the claims suggested that Namport was illegally handling dangerous goods, especially radioactive material such as spent nuclear cartridges and plutonium.

These claims began spreading when a Namibian company, Native Products, last week made public its plans to establish a dangerous goods storage facility at an old South African naval bunker nearby the Narraville suburb.

It is envisioned that this storage facility would be able to hold explosives, gasses, flammable liquids and solids, acids and alkalines, poisons and radio-active material (not nuclear waste).

According to Native Products boss, Thomas Jonas, Namport received a variety of dangerous goods whose storage required legislation and standards compliance, which is allegedly lacking in certain areas.

Last week, Narraville residents said they will not allow any storage of hazardous products close to the residential area.

Emphasis was also given to claims that the company intended to store nuclear waste. These claims caused a major outcry from the community.

“These claims are unfounded and the authors needed to make sure of their facts,” said Jonas, adding that “nuclear waste” was not in the equation.

He also told The Namibian last week that the radio-active products had to do with those coming mostly from the mines, and that there was a difference between radio-active waste and products.

Said Uirab: “As per our records, and since inception of Namport in 1994, no nuclear waste or any other form of radioactive goods have been landed at Namibian ports. The only exception is the export of uranium oxide (yellow-cake) from Namibian mines. Due to the low radiation levels, this cargo is allowed a maximum of three days storage in the port before shipment,” Uirab explained.

He rejected claims that Namport was storing any such goods outside its port perimeters.

Uirab explained that some classes of dangerous goods such as Class 7 cargo (radio-active material), explosives (class 6) and infectious substances (class 6,2) are not allowed to be discharged during the night and may not be stored in the port. This means the cargo must be removed from the port the same day they land.

He concluded that Namport has no direct or indirect interest in the establishment of the Native Storage initiative, although it has issued a letter of support for the project “on condition that Native Venture Holdings obtain all the necessary statutory approval and source their own business”.

Source : The Namibian