On 24 August 1985, the container ship Ariadne left the Port of Mogadishu in Somalia and grounded on rocks about 100 metres from the shore. The vessel was transporting a cargo of 118 containers of hazardous chemicals, such as acetone, butyl acetate, tetraethyl lead, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene. As the ship began to list more and more, 14 containers of hazardous substances fell into the sea.
Attempts to salvage the ship began on 1st September, with the assistance of 2 salvage tugs and hydraulic pumps, but were unsuccessful. On 26 September, part of the deck collapsed and a fire started above one of the decks. Toxic fumes and chemical emissions drifted towards the city; the local authorities ordered the evacuation of a restricted number of inhabitants and companies in the port area.
The following day, the vessel broke in two and large quantities of oil and cargo, including drums of chemicals, began to arrive on the shoreline. The Somali Government requested help and five countries sent teams of experts specialised in areas such as salvage operations, fire fighting, spill response, chemistry, and environmental assessment, which arrived on 28 September. As of 29 September, 113 containers were recovered, while heavy oil continued to be washed up on the coast.
On 30 September, the rear part of the ship broke off further and began to list at a 90 degree angle. On 2 October, despite the lack of protective clothing, a vast operation was set up to recover the cargo which had washed up on the shore. The cargo collected was transported to an area of the port for storage. Leaking drums were plugged and chemicals were recovered using sand, both without protective equipment. Inspection of the storage area appeared rather casual and the personnel working in this area suffered from headaches, dizziness and nausea.
Date: 24 August 1985
Accident area: Port of Mogadishu
Cause of spill: grounding
Quantity transported: 118 containers
Type of pollutant: acetone, butyl acetate, tetraethyl lead, toluene, trichloroethylene and xylene
Quantity spilled: 14 containers
Ship type: container ship
Last update: 01/04/2007