NORD’s speedy and successful cleanup of fire-damaged German container ship MSC Flaminia, rendered the company with prestigious environmental awards as well as a bridge-head to a new and promising market.
In the summer of 2012, MSC Flaminia was ravaged by fire in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Flaminia is one of the world’s largest container ships being almost 300 meters in length and as the fire rapidly spread, the crew had to abandon ship.
It took more than three days to put out the fire and eventually the ship could be taken into a German port, which is where NORD helped remove around 30,000 ton of toxic firefighting water, and later to Romania where it was intended that the ship would be cleaned up, repaired and put back into service as soon as possible.
“That didn’t happen though. After five months in Romania, only a few thousand tons of waste had been taken care of. Time was running out and the owners came back to us. We had only two months to clean the ship, which we managed. We had to create a cluster of different competencies and engage several suppliers. It was definitely one of the most complex tasks we have ever undertaken but we did it in a very safe way, on time and with a perfect result,” says Carsten Fich, CEO of NORD.
The cleaning process involved close co-operation with Fayard, ISS and HJ Hansen and in total around 750 people were involved in the operation. This has been described by industry insiders as one of the biggest cleaning and detoxification jobs ever performed on board a vessel.
NORD managed, destroyed or recycled around 28,000 tons of hazardous waste that was generated when containers and their contents melted due to the intense heat caused by the fire. Flaminia was docked at the Fayard shipyard Lindö in Odense and the hazardous waste was transported to NORD’s treatment facility at Nyborg in Denmark. An added dimension was the need to accommodate the extensive forensic investigations by several insurance companies in order to determine the exact cause of the fire.
“NORD managing this in such a skillful way is of course not by chance. It is the result of hard work over that past several years to methodically improve operational excellence, develop the CSR profile and broaden NORD’s skills and competencies. The acquisitions of oily water treatment companies Gunnar Lund and H2O Liquid Waste were two such important additions. They brought knowledge about that particular type of waste and also about the marine environment where NORD earlier has not been present. Our ability to trace the toxic waste, issue certificates of destruction and calculate CO2 footprints have also been important to reach the stage where we can successfully undertake this kind of operation in a responsible way,” says Ulf Berg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of NORD and a member of EQT’s Industrial Network.
NORD’s successful operation clinched the prestigious EU environmental award in the “International corporate co-operation” category. The prize was handed out in June by the Danish environmental minister Kirsten Brosböl.
The Flaminia project also creates new inroads to a market that has been largely untapped by NORD – salvaging and cleaning up decommissioned ships and oil platforms.
“What we managed to do with Flaminia has given NORD huge attention from that segment and our competencies and location in Denmark with easy access to ports are clear advantages. Not least the North Sea offshore industry, where several platforms are marked for decommissioning in the coming years, is a very interesting opportunity,” says Carsten Fich.
Ship-owners are under mounting pressure to cease with the practice of beaching and cutting up decommissioned vessels in Africa and Asia, often under very poor and unsafe working conditions and with scant respect for the environment. Instead, NORD can offer a fully controlled, regulated and documented process, which can be an important part of clients’ CSR work and profile.
“NORD certainly has some very interesting prospects ahead, being a specialized hazardous waste treatment company and I am fully confident they can embrace these growth opportunities,” says Stefan Glevén, Partner at Investment Advisor EQT Partners and a member of the Board of Directors of NORD.
NORD was acquired by the EQT Infrastructure I fund in 2010. It has since changed its name from Kommunekemi to NORD (Nordgroup A/S).