H2S levels high after one found dead on party cruise

hazmat death

HMN-Initial reports by fire crews showed no harmful levels, however a HAZMAT team follow up showed elevated levels of Hydrogen Sulfide.

Sydney Morning Herald

Hazardous material teams recorded “extremely hazardous” levels of hydrogen sulfide in a toilet cubicle of a luxury cruise vessel in the hours after a woman’s body was found on Saturday afternoon.

The woman, who can now be identified as Shalina Abdul Hussien, was found slumped in a confined toilet cubicle on the Lady Rose, a three-level vessel owned by cruising company All Occasion Cruises Pty Limited.

It is now understood that while earlier readings conducted by Fire and Rescue teams on Saturday afternoon were “not alarming” and reflected a “safe atmosphere,” by 8.30pm on Saturday further testing by HAZMAT teams recorded “extremely hazardous” levels of hydrogen sulfide, that reached the highest possible levels that could be recorded by testing machines.

Despite these findings, a spokesman for Fire and Rescue NSW disputed them, saying that the levels were “not consistent with what we found on Saturday,” adding that the readings taken at the time of the incident were of such a safe atmosphere that crews did not even return to the vessel for further testing on Sunday.

 

It is now understood that while earlier readings conducted by Fire and Rescue teams on Saturday afternoon were “not alarming” and reflected a “safe atmosphere,” by 8.30pm on Saturday further testing by HAZMAT teams recorded “extremely hazardous” levels of hydrogen sulfide, that reached the highest possible levels that could be recorded by testing machines.

Despite these findings, a spokesman for Fire and Rescue NSW disputed them, saying that the levels were “not consistent with what we found on Saturday,” adding that the readings taken at the time of the incident were of such a safe atmosphere that crews did not even return to the vessel for further testing on Sunday.

Ms Hussien’s body was found on the Lady Rose after she was reported missing by her friends and fellow passengers, who had begun complaining of an overpowering gas-like smell.

The 39-year-old was attending a four-hour birthday party on the privately chartered vessel, with around 100 other guests, when her body was discovered by a deck hand.

The Lady Rose is licensed to carry up to 475 passengers.

It is understood complaints about a gas-like smell were reported to the vessel’s crew, prompting the master to attempt to empty the base tanks of the vessel, after which Ms Hussien’s friends told crew members she could not be located.

Ms Hussien is said to have been using one of the confined toilet cubicles towards the stern, or rear of the vessel, and was likely overcome by gases emanating from tanks in the vessel.

The smell was not thought to be fuel-related.

The Lady Rose returned to the White Bay Terminal at Robert Street, Balmain at 4pm, to waiting police, emergency services and fire trucks.

Despite the efforts of four paramedics, Ms Hussien could not be revived.

The Herald understands the smells on the Lady Rose were so bad that once the passengers had all alighted, specialist HAZMAT team had to clear the vessel before it could be forensically examined by police.

On Saturday police sources said that no suspicious substances were found by the HAZMAT team, however on Sunday a police media spokesperson confirmed the updated findings that indicated the hazardous levels.

All Occasions Cruises did not respond to questions from the Herald on Sunday, but in a statement a spokesman said it would work closely with investigators to understand what happened.

“The Lady Rose has carried tens of thousands of passengers for quality Sydney Harbour cruise events for many years, without major incident. This tragic event is very upsetting to the whole crew and operations team and we send our deepest condolences to the lady’s family,” he said.

“We do not believe it at all appropriate to speculate on this tragic incident and will comment only when the facts are known.”

On Saturday a partygoer who was on the boat at the time of Ms Hussien’s death said it was “just a very sad, unfortunate circumstance”.

Investigations by police are continuing, with the assistance of investigators from Roads and Maritime Services.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

On its website All Occasions Cruises states it has been operating for more than 20 years, as “the best private Sydney Harbour concierge,” whose guests are “the heart and soul” of its business.

Lady Rose is one of six charter and luxury vessels owned by the company.

Other vessels owned by the company have hosted high profile celebrities including Hillary Clinton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Derulo and Niall Horan.

Check out “Firefighter Rescue and HAZMAT” this year at FDIC 2019.

 

Phil Ambrose will be presenting for his third year in a row on April 11th, 2019 at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference held in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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