Here’s a another example of how environmental activists like to beg, plead and claim real excuses when severe environmental accidents happen, yet when an accident is caused by anyone else they demand heads on a plate.
Hat-tip: reader Jim
The article is from earlier this year, but it neither got media attention nor the attention it deserves.
What really strikes me is that the environmental organization comes in with its lawyers and fights tooth and nail in claiming that they really acted responsibly and that the accident was not entirely their fault. The excuses they presented are truly sad and pathetic and show an amazing ignorance when it comes to industrial safety regulation and management.
For example, the Cairns Post writes:
A FAULTY switch and instruction manuals written entirely in Japanese have been blamed in court for why a ship owned by conservation group Sea Shepherd dropped up to 500 litres of diesel into the Trinity Inlet.”
Sorry, but using a piece of equipment that you do not understand is gross negligence. Sea Shepard’s motto here obviously was: Let’s just get this thing running (and safety be damned!)
It’s not for nothing that the fundamental industry standard for any piece of such equipment is: Be sure you have read the manual and have UNDERSTOOD it! The crew obviously could not read Japanese, let alone understand it. Here they should have requested a manual in English from the manufacturer, or at least shelled out the money for a translation, before recklessly attempting to put it into operation at sea. They should especially have at least understood the critical technical points dealing with fuel.
The Cairns Times reports that “a crew member named Gabor Nosty failed to manually flick the “low level” switch during a fuel transfer, despite being aware the switch was faulty.”
If that isn’t gross negligence, then I don’t what is. It is management’s responsibility to be sure that its personnel are qualified and trained to carry out the work they have been assigned to do. Most industrial norms and regulations aren’t there to harass companies, but to prevent accidents involving human life and health, property and the environment. The Sea Shepard crew ignored this entirely.
And not only could they not read the vessel’s operating manual, according to the Cairns Times the Sea Shepherd Australia had bought the ship from Japan a week earlier and “had yet to translate signage and manuals or repair the switch“. Again putting a piece of equipment into operation when its crucial safety signs cannot be read is extremely reckless. The crew can count themselves fortunate nothing much worse happened. We are not talking about a TV here, rather a large piece of industrial equipment with lots of power – with people on board – and all around you.
The article also writes that because the chief engineer did not have a manual they could understand, the crew “had to work out the ship’s systems ‘by his own devices’“. This means they were guessing its operational function. This is something you never should do. You wait for a manual you can read, then you read it, and make sure you’ve understood it. Then you can start to use it.
The article also writes that the crew included some Germans. My wife’s company does a lot of translations of German industrial manuals and handbooks. The Germans are gurus when it comes to industrial safety regulation, policy and management. If any one should understand industrial regulation and the importance of adhering to safety standards, it is the Germans. Obviously the Germans on the Sea Shepard crew did not complete a German apprenticeship, or they slept through it.
All the crew members came from an advanced technological country. It’s amazing how activists are always calling for more stringent safety regulations and environmental protection laws, yet they themselves can’t even adhere to the most rudimentary and obvious safety rules. It’s the Japanese manufacturer’s fault!
Despite all the Sea Shepard’s gross negligence, recklessness and disregard for human, property and environmental safety, it appears the crew will get off real easy.