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.
Name: Amalie Essberger
Date: 13 January 1973
Accident area: Port of Gothenburg
Cause of spill: damage to cistern
Type of pollutant: phenol
Quantity spilled: 400 tonnes
Ship type: tanker
Last update: August 2009