Eight crew members and a dockworker had to be decontaminated after being exposed to leaking gas while a cargo of grain was unloaded at Warrenpoint Harbour, a report has revealed.
The workers were taken to hospital as the fire service cordoned off an area around the quayside where an anti-pest fumigating device began to smoke.
The emergency started after the Arklow Meadow docked in December.
A report into the incident claimed that although Warrenpoint Harbour Authority had reacted quickly, the port had not developed procedures or emergency plans to deal specifically with fumigants.
The phosphide had probably remained active due to tight packaging and relatively low humidity in the cargo holds.
The report said: “Onboard procedures for the carriage of fumigated cargoes were scant, and the instructions provided by the fumigator in the Ukraine were not followed.”
It added: “A recommendation has been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency aimed at improving the guidance available regarding the carriage of fumigated cargoes.
“A recommendation has been made to the British Ports Association and the UK Major Ports Group to help ensure that all UK ports have procedures and emergency plans in place when dealing with fumigated cargoes.”