Gas measurement expert Joeri van Eck checks the atmosphere in containers before they are subjected to a detailed physical check. In this way he protects fellow customs officials against noxious fumes that escape from goods shipments.
“Here at the port of Flushing we mainly carry out drugs checks on risk lines in shipping. It mainly concerns freight on fruit boats from South-America. We check this specific container, because it has a slightly unusual combination of agricultural products according to our information: sweet potatoes, mangos and physalis, or golden berries. As usual, I first of all carried out a complete gas measurement, which takes about 20 minutes. I place a long probe between the doors, which draws air from the container. This probe runs to my gas detector, with which I can identify 300 substances, via a gas-proof hose. The device indicates that the content of carbon monoxide in the container is very high: eight times the maximum permitted value. With my gas mask and air cylinder I then collected a number of boxes at the front from the cargo and inspected them. I am not allowed to inspect the back rows, because there is no colleague nearby for assistance. Normally speaking there is someone on guard at the container door. If I would faint, get stuck or become injured, he can help rescue me.”