The Tecon Santos container terminal reopened Saturday night after firefighters put out a blaze at the largest South American port gateway that lasted more than 40 hours.
With the green light from the fire brigade chief and emergency services issued Saturday afternoon, Tecon Santos began receiving container ships again at its two berths, as well as roll-on, roll-off vessels at its Terminal Exportação de Veiculos facility, which has an adjacent berth at the left bank complex in Guaruja. The terminal reopened 7 p.m. local time Saturday and the first vessel docked at around 8 p.m., a Tecon Santos spokesman told JOC.com.
A handful of vessels were diverted from Tecon Santos to other container terminals in the Santos port complex, which were not affected by the toxic clouds. Two ships, Alianca Navegacao e Logistica ‘s Cap San Antonio and CMA CGM’s Solar N, were diverted to the Embraport container terminal, operated by DP World and Odebrecht Transport.
Pedro Alvares Cabral, operated by Alianca Navegacao, a subsidiary of Hamburg Sud, and serving the cabotage trade, and the Tabea, operated by Hapag Lloyd in its Tango service from east coast of South America to United States East Coast, were the first vessels to dock Saturday, according to the Tecon Santos website. The Pedro Alvares Cabral was originally due to berth on Thursday afternoon, but was still waiting the go-ahead as of Sunday morning.
The inferno started when heavy rain penetrated a container, causing a chemical reaction with chlorine that had been loaded into the container at the Localfrio terminal. The facility is adjacent to Tecon Santos but doesn’t have a waterfront.
Toxic smoke, engulfing the Guaruja municipality and drifting across the Santos channel to affect residential areas in the upmarket neighbourhoods of Gonzaga and Ponta da Praia, in Santos, sent 70 people to the hospital. They were diagnosed with respiratory problems, severe headaches and nausea. Some 500 local residents had to be evacuated from the site.
Local authorities and the fire brigade are conducting a investigation into the conflagration. The recent fire, the second in less than a year, as a fire at a liquid bulk terminal in April crippled the port, has reawakened questions about safety and controls at the country’s leading port
“We need a much better system of controls and checks in the port of Santos, especially for the terminals that are handling hazardous products,” Paulo Saldiva, a researcher in the University of Sao Paulo Environmental health department, told Globo News.
The terminal, owned by Santos Brasil, South America’s biggest box handling company, handled 1.2 million, or 34 percent of the port’s 3.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units, during the first 11 months of last year.