The Toxic Contraband

Dec 6th, 1917 was a bright, freezing morning at Halifax, Canada’s busiest harbour. Halifax was a big base for ammunition transport for Europe in WW1. A crowded waterfront with ships and freighters.

The French captain of SS Mont Blanc was carefully steering his ship through this maze. Normal rush hour traffic. And then he spotted it. Heading straight at him was a Norwegian freighter, SS Imo.

Both captains tried to avoid collision. They did manage to reduce it to a minor head on scrape. But that was enough.

You see, the SS Mont Blanc was a floating bomb. Crammed with 3000 tns of TNT & high octane benzole. The blast was the biggest man-made explosion before the atom bomb. 2000 died. Halifax was destroyed.

It was not the head on scrape but the character of the cargo that did it.

The Russian owned Rhosus, was not even carrying the 2750 tn ammonium nitrate to Beirut. It was bound for Mozambique but abandoned at Beriut due to lack of funds. Beirut port officials took this toxic stuff into their own Hangar No 12 and sat on it till it destroyed their city 3 days ago.

There are many such acts of deadly negligence in history.

It made me think hard. What is the #toxic contraband lying inside me that is dry and ready to blast? And why don’t I #letitgo despite knowing it?

Sources : The Washington Post, The New York Times

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