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    A sure thing: container fumigation in Wilhelmshaven


    The import regulations of numerous countries stipulate that certain containers may only be deployed when they have been fumigated in advance. This affects containers, for instance, in which trunk wood has been transported. The aim is to protect the import countries from insects which could be harmful. The EUROGATE Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven features fumigating facilities approved by the authorities and erected according to the requirements of the German Federal Control of Pollution Act (BimSchG). The facilities are well equipped for fumigating and performing so-called clearance measurements of containers from foreign countries.

    The Hamburg-based company Bertram GmbH is responsible for the work. Managing Director Thomas Köper explains: “In Germany, containers are either fumigated with hydrogen phosphide (PH3) or sulfuryl fluoride (SF). The selection of the fumigation gas depends on the goods being treated and the import regulations in the country of destination.” The employees of Bertram – trained specialists with the required certification – seal up the container and close the ventilation slots. Afterwards, the gas is pumped into the container and a safety label is attached. After a defined exposure time, the container is aired out. Once the fumigation certificate has been issued, the container is ready for its next voyage.

    By the way, the use of sulfuryl fluoride in Wilhelmshaven for fumigating is very distinct. Normally, the container doors are opened and the container is then aired out “naturally”. In Wilhelmshaven, however, the regulations require that containers may only be aired out at a height of 5 metres. Therefore, the Bertram employees guide the emitting air up via a pipe system.

    Many containers which reach Germany are fumigated in other countries. To ensure that no harm is done to human life, clearance measurements are required in Wilhelmshaven: experts must measure the concentration of gas inside the container before it is opened. Only once the stipulated safety limit has been achieved is the container cleared and can be transported further.