Sunday, 26 April 2009

Port probe after containers collapse

INVESTIGATIONS are under way today after an accident at Britain's biggest port in which a stack of containers collapsed.
The incident happened in a quayside container park at Felixstowe Port as a rubber-tyred gantry crane tried to sort rows of stored boxes.
It is understood the crane driver was trying to shuffle the boxes to find one on a lower level in a stack.
One portworker said: “What seems to have happened is that the crane driver decided to stack the boxes on top of each other when moving them and they became too heavy.
“The ones at the bottom of the stack then just gave way and crumpled up and the stack just toppled over and collapsed.
“A tug driver in a vehicle nearby managed to get out and away from the area just before it all happened.”
It is understood each of the containers had about 22 tons of imported potatoes inside.
The portworker said: “You could stack empties nine-high because there is no weight in them, but when the containers are full they can be several tons and that weight and pressure just builds up.
“There are regular accidents on the port. It is a dangerous environment to work in.
“I have seen the bottom fall out of containers being loaded onto ships because the container had metal fatigue, and others crumple when the weight on top was too much, but nothing like this before.”
Head of corporate affairs at the port, Paul Davey said no-one had been hurt in the accident - which happened at 5.30am on Wednesday - and an internal investigation was under way into the cause.
He added: “The yard is still open and we are able to handle trucks in there as normal.”
A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive said an officer would be discussing the incident with the port.

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