A small drama on the Seaway is playing out on Christmas Day. A Liberian-registered German vessel, Hermann Schoening, is passing through the St. Lawrence River today and is expected to reach Massena’s locks this evening.
Sixteen members of the ship’s Chinese crew were hospitalized yesterday after phosphine gas leaked from cargo holds into living and working spaces. According to the Toronto Star:
The gas formed after fumigation pellets used on board the vessel somehow became moist or wet. Phosphine is a chemical used to fumigate or control pests in processed foods, stored tobacco, animal feeds and non-food products.
Transport Canada said it has set out a number of safety conditions for the ship’s continued passage, including a clearance certificate by a fumigator, receipt of medical reports for all crew members, a plan for the permanent sealing of the point of gas leakage prior to departure from Montreal, and periodic monitoring and reporting to Transport Canada marine safety of the gas levels.
We’ve received unconfirmed reports from the wife of a Seaway pilot that the crew is “sick, cold, weak, hungry, feel very much alone, forgotten and are frightened”.