Trawler to be towed to Nelson

BILL MOORE
Last updated 13:00 14/09/2012

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The Amaltal Columbia will be towed to Nelson for fire repairs as soon as it is safe to do so, Talley's Group managing director Peter Talley said today.

It appeared there was still smouldering in the ship's insulation following Wednesday's fierce blaze and that had to be dealt with first.

Then the Columbia would be towed from Lyttelton to Nelson by another Talley's boat, the Amaltal Mariner, with the aim to do that over the weekend.

Yesterday workers unloading the 300 tonnes of frozen processed fish from the ship were twice the subject of medical alerts.

Fire Service assistant area commander Greg Crawford said ammonia, used for refrigeration, started leaking from a pipe believed damaged in the fire about 5am.

Two workers were treated by ambulance staff at the scene and then returned to work.

However, at 2.30pm St John Ambulance was called again - this time for suspected carbon monoxide poisoning.

Four workers, including the original two, were taken to Christchurch Hospital.

Mr Crawford said carbon monoxide pockets in the hold were likely to be a result of the fire, and it was evident more specialised equipment was needed than the Fire Service could supply.

Firefighters checking on hot spots and those investigating the cause of the fire had been equipped with full breathing apparatus, he said.

"Talley's should bring in personal protective equipment if they wanted to continue off-loading the fish," he said.

Mr Talley said the four workers - Talley's staff sent from Nelson - had been taken to hospital as part of a standard procedure and swiftly discharged.

Talley's was "taking every precaution" to protect safety while the difficult job of unloading the frozen fish went ahead. It wasn't possible to ensure the fire was completely extinguished until the hold was empty.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said it had referred yesterday's incidents to Maritime New Zealand. A Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigation into the fire and rescue has also begun and is expected to take up to a year.

The Nelson-based ship was 85 kilometres northeast of the Lyttelton Heads when the blaze broke out in the fishmeal hold early on Wednesday morning. The 41 crew members and two fisheries observers were brought ashore unharmed in what has been called a textbook rescue operation.

The Columbia was towed still burning into Lyttelton by the San Discovery at 12.30am yesterday.

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- The Nelson Mail

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