Shipping bosses say a huge plume of black smoke from one of their chemical and oil tankers at Liverpool docks was not harmful to the public.
There were fears that a fire had broken out after the dark cloud was seen drifting across Bootle at around 9am.
It explained that “a loose air flap on the boiler” inside the 8,000-tonne ship was to blame.
A company spokesman told the ECHO: “There was a short burst of black smoke from the funnel, due to air starvation, while the boiler was on low sulphur gas oil at Bootle Docks , Liverpool.
“The fault was immediately diagnosed and repaired and the operation is back to normal.
“The smoke was result of momentary poor combustion and is not harmful to general public.
“Chemical Marketer arrived in Liverpool from Turkey and after cargo handling will depart for Antwerp.”
The thick smoke was visible for hours in the city and began after what was seemingly a routine procedure for the ship’s operators.
People living and working nearby were alarmed at the smoke, which dock workers explained began “after the ship switched on its engines”.
One man living nearby told the ECHO “there was a terrible oily burning smell in the air” as the smoke spread across the area.
He added: “The whole area was just covered. Thick black smoke was blowing over the houses.”
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that there was no emergency incident at the docks and they were not in attendance.
The owner of a car wash close to the docks feared the fumes could be an environmental hazard.
He tweeted a picture of the vessel and stated “send that away from us ASAP”.
Peel Ports, who run the docks, were contacted for comment.
Source: Liverpool Echo