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Diary from a cargo vessel taking refuse derived fuel to Sweden

18th August 2014 Posted by

Name: Robert ‘Bob’ Pollock

Job title: Senior Site Manager

Bob’s normally in charge of a number of sites in Newcastle. However, for one week this spring, he ran off to sea.. on a cargo vessel taking refuse derived fuel to Sweden – which was filmed as part of a BBC documentary on the waste industry.

Day one

7am Arrived at port to check loading quality, met the captain and crew of the 2,600 tonne Crown Mary.

7.20pm Draft and load survey complete, lost a £5 bet with a loader on the tonnage loaded (why did I take a bet with a loader on loading?).

8.15pm Shown to cabin, nice but felt guilty as one of the crew (Eric from the Philippines) has given his cabin up for me. Will he be sleeping in the crow’s nest?

8.40pm We’re off. Captain goes through health and safety routine. That includes me putting on an orange survival suit. Bet this part makes it into the documentary, judging by the laughter emanating from the BBC crew. I open some of the red wine I brought with me. Works a treat; never thought any more about Eric’s bed plight

11.45pm After a glass of wine and some banter with the BBC crew, it’s bedtime.

Day two

4.33am Woken up by shifting seas. Bit worried, so decided it would be best to get back to sleep.

8.34am Don’t feel much like breakfast, still choppy. Quite difficult to shower on a ship, failed in two attempts to get shampoo on my head.

9.15am Met the captain for a coffee and chat about why we ship refuse derived fuel to Sweden. I think he got it.

11.30am Eric gives me a tour of the vessel, which involves going right up to the pointy end of the boat (technical term).

11.33am Soaked with sea spray. I might look a bit wet but the refuse derived fuel is still looking good and dry.

12.16pm Lunch. The chef is from the Philippines, so I am expecting some local recipe. We got chicken and rice; good but not what I expected.

3pm Did a bit of filming with the crew. They are very friendly and invited me to their karaoke evening tomorrow night. Lock up your ears.

5pm Dinner time: more chicken. Explained to the BBC and boat crew the value we extract from waste and the circular economy. Not sure they all got it.

9.25pm Red wine time (again), followed by a bit of music, then bed. We’re getting up at 5am to film the sunrise (can’t wait).

Day three

4.45am Got up for the sunrise; cloudy, so went back to bed.

8am Breakfast, then watched the filming of the crew and some boat shots for the next four hours. How many minutes will make it into the show?

After lunch I spent time with the captain, chatting about how our countries deal with waste.

6pm Dinner (more chicken), then karaoke. After I had some Russian vodka, I sang ‘My Way’ – very badly. I have no future in the music industry.

Day four

6.30am Got up, hungry. Made some toast.

After lunch Bit more filming with the crew. Eric is driving the ship. He tells me he works away for 10 months at a time.

3pm Did some still pics. I was asked to fold my arms and give it some attitude…

4.30pm BBC filmed me and Jimmy from the Philippines in his cabin. He shows me pictures and videos of his wife and daughter. He has only seen her once in her life and will miss her first birthday.

5.30pm Dinner (chicken again, with spaghetti). There are some weird combos coming out of that kitchen.

7pm Red wine time: one glass tonight, as we dock in morning, so back to being a representative of SITA UK. So, early to bed.

Day five

5am Up with the lark, now passing some of the picturesque inner islands of Sweden.

8am Unloading cranes arrived, log clamps instead of flat clamps. This will not go well, methinks.

10am Unloading continues, as does my crying as I watch our bales being burst with every lift.

12.30pm Arrive at TVL (end user of refuse derived fuel). It is constructing another furnace and boiler. Refuse derived fuel is king in this part of the world for heat and power.

3pm BBC has put a time lapse camera on top of a 120ft water tower to capture Linkoping lighting up using refuse derived fuel for power.

10pm BBC people return to the hotel with smiles on their faces. It looks really good seeing all the lights go on.

Day six

9am More location shooting. I was asked to put my shirt, tie and hi viz back on from yesterday’s filming for continuity to do some car driving and talking shots. I had to put yesterday’s shirt back on, as it was the only white shirt I have with me. Had to do this in public as we had checked out of our hotel. Wonder whether my shorts will be visible.

Day seven

4am Up for the drive to the airport. Looking forward to seeing the documentary in September. Cold sweat suddenly flows. Hope I have said the right things.

4pm My boss, Anna Bell, drives me home. Then relax, bath and bed. Back to work in the morning. Eric can have his cabin back now.

2 comments on "Diary from a cargo vessel taking refuse derived fuel to Sweden"

  • What is this BBC programme called and when is it going to be on air? Thanks

  • It’s called Waste Men and is now going out in January 2015.

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