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Amalie Essberger

SpillsAmalie Essberger

On 13 January 1973, the German tanker Amalie Essberger was unloading molten phenol in a cistern of the port of Gothenburg (Sweden). Probably due to overpressure, the cistern suddenly ruptured and a total of 400 tonnes of phenol leaked down onto the quay and into the water.

A large gas cloud was rapidly visible above the quay. The company personnel equipped with chemical resistant clothing started to recover the phenol on the quay. Because of the low temperature outside (around 0°C), the pollutant quickly solidified. This meant that the evaporation soon stopped and recovery was easier.

A safety zone of 50 m was set up and the incoming vessels were redirected. All the phenol on the ground was recovered. However, measurements in the water showed indications of phenol, and divers searching the area found large stacks of solidified phenol on the bottom. These could be recovered using simple dredging equipment. Measurements taken after the incident showed no signs of biological damage to the marine fauna.


  • HELCOM, 2002, HELCOM Response Manual - Volume 2

Name: Amalie Essberger

Date: 13 January 1973

Location: Sweden

Accident area: Port of Gothenburg

Cause of spill: damage to cistern

Type of pollutant: phenol

Quantity spilled: 400 tonnes

Ship type: tanker

Flag: German


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