ITF claims new Panama Canal locks are unsafe

ITF claims new Panama Canal locks are unsafe

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has dismissed a critical safety report on its new locks as “inadmissible”, claiming the study did not have all the facts correct.

The safety study into the Panama Canal expansion, commissioned by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), was carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem de Mar (FHM). The study, which used simulations, suggests the safety of manoeuvrability is compromised as the locks’ dimensions are too small for safe operation (with both gates closed); there are no refuge areas for the tugboats inside the locks, leaving no room for failure (human error, miscommunication, broken lines or engine failure); and the bollard pull was deemed insufficient.

The study recommends that a complete risk analysis and special training should be carried out to avoid any accidents that may result in loss of life or pollution.

The much delayed expansion of the canal has had more than its fair share of bad news tales in recent years. It is finally set to open in the next couple of months, ushering in significant changes to world trading patterns.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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