1976 - René 16

Year 1976
Vessel René 16
Location Port of Landskrona, Sweden
Cargo type Bulk
Chemicals AMMONIA anhydrous

Summary

The Belgian gas carrier M/S "René 16" arrived in the port of Landskrona, Sweden in the evening of January 16, 1976 with a cargo of 533 tons of anhydrous ammonia. The Landskrona complex found in the far south of Sweden contains a fertilizer producing company which imports ammonia, half arrives by land, whilst the other half by gas carrier.

The anhydrous ammonia is stored in the complex under pressure in two spherical storage tanks of 1,000 and 2,000 tons storage capacity. The gas carrier usually carries a cargo of 500 - 1500 tons and the unloading capacity varies between 40 and 150 tonnes/hour depending on the capacity of pumps and compressors. Normally, the tankers use their own equipment, including the hoses for connection to the pipelines. However, this time, the compressor and pumps of the storage facility were used because those of the gas carrier were being repaired.

At 18.35, unloading of liquid ammonia started. All conditions were normal until just after midnight when the hose ruptured. The operator at the quay immediately closed the hydraulic valve and immediately instructed the person at the other end to stop the compressor and close the valves. At the same time, the engineer on duty called the emergency services.

Narrative

The Belgian gas carrier M/S "René 16" arrived in the port of Landskrona, Sweden in the evening of January 16, 1976 with a cargo of 533 tons of anhydrous ammonia. The Landskrona complex found in the far south of Sweden contains a fertilizer producing company which imports ammonia, half arrives by land, whilst the other half by gas carrier.

The anhydrous ammonia is stored in the complex under pressure in two spherical storage tanks of 1,000 and 2,000 tons storage capacity. The gas carrier usually carries a cargo of 500 - 1500 tons and the unloading capacity varies between 40 and 150 tonnes/hour depending on the capacity of pumps and compressors. Normally, the tankers use their own equipment, including the hoses for connection to the pipelines. However, this time, the compressor and pumps of the storage facility were used because those of the gas carrier were being repaired.

At 18.35, unloading of liquid ammonia started. All conditions were normal until just after midnight when the hose ruptured. The operator at the quay immediately closed the hydraulic valve and immediately instructed the person at the other end to stop the compressor and close the valves. At the same time, the engineer on duty called the emergency services.

Resume

After about ten minutes, the firemen arrived and two of them donned protective clothing and breathing apparatus. By this time, the tanker was completely enveloped in a cloud of Ammonia gas (Figure 1) and liquid ammonia was still spurting onto the quay. The firemen in protective clothing went on board and closed the ball valve of the discharge line. Fifty minutes had elapsed from the time of rupture to when the valve on board was closed and it was estimated that about 180 tonnes of ammonia had leaked onto the quay.

The fire service personnel used water sprays to knock down the cloud (Figure 2). Five crew members were found on board, two of whom had to be hospitalized. After 1 hour, the ammonia cloud had been dispersed and two crew members, the captain and the first mate, were found dead on the quay side. Accident investigation showed that the two members of the crew had been drenched with ammonia and the cause of death was as edema of the lungs following exposure to ammonia as they ran into the wind once the rutter hose ruptured.

No crew member was standing in such a position that they could close the quick-closing valve, which was remotely controlled from two places on the ship. If the valve had been closed immediately, only a small quantity of anhydrous ammonia would have leaked.

Further investigation showed that the rubber hose for unloading purposes was suitable for propane and butane but not for anhydrous ammonia.

last modified 2021-08-18T14:44:09+00:00