'Puma in trouble on its way back from Murmansk', Kjesti Album's headline news item set alarm bells ringing in Norway when it was published in the environmental online publication Naturvernvorbundet just before Christmas. Somewhat clandestinely, the Danish ship had sailed along Norway's north-west seaboard a week earlier to Murmansk, Russia, loaded with 333 tons of weapons-grade nuclear hazardous waste from a Serbian research facility. The 1994 built, 2120 dwt Puma attracted unwelcome publicity on the way back south from the Barents Sea, close by the northern coast of Norway, when crew were unable to stop the engine room flooding from a damaged sea-water inlet valve and assistance had to be called.
Norwegians breathed a collective sigh of relief when they heard that all hazardous waste cargo had already been offloaded, but still the Puma was in danger of foundering in these icy waters off the coast of North Norway.
Map: Courtesy of BarentsObserver.com
Hazardous Waste Trade to Russia
Radioactive hazardous waste from a few European nations is carried by ship along this route to be permanently stored in Russia, all to the consternation of Norwegian environmentalist groups. Nevertheless, authorities consider it of greater importance to keep the vulnerable cargo far out of reach of any possible terrorist hijackers by routing the vessel through these more remote and open northern waters off the coast of Norway. Admittedly, were they to choose a shorter passage through the Baltic Sea to some other Russian port, the vessel would probably present an easier target.
Puma Patched Up
According to innovative emergency repair kit manufacturers, Miko Marine's press release on 20, December 2010, assistance to the anchored Puma arrived in the nick of time to stop the leak. The Norwegian Coastal Administration vessel KV Farm had on board (as do all Administration vessels) the Miko company's patent magnetic patch kit, which they applied by trimming Puma by the head through transfer of water ballast until the outboard side of the damaged inlet valve was clear of the water. A 'Miko Magnetic Patch' was then applied to the outer hull plating, fixed in place by powerful magnets to keep the seal in place. Puma was then ballasted back to an even keel and happily the engine-room remained dry for the thirty miles open sea passage to the port of Hammerfest for permanent repairs.
Claiming the nuclear fuel carrier had been saved by his company's magnetic patch, Miko Marine MD Nicolai Michelsen, said: "Our products have been used to save ships and offshore platforms from sinking on numerous occasions. Afterwards people invariably remark upon the trivial cost of the patch compared with the costs of cleaning-up an environmental disaster that might have occurred if it had not been available." Insurers and operators of ships with a high risk potential for sea pollution take note.
Nuclear Waste Carrier Puma: Courtesy of MerchantShipPhotos