Wednesday 4 January at 8:30 pm, the LPG tanker the Sigmagas, flying
the Antigua and Barbuda flag, suffered damage to her helm in the
Loire river and collided with the LPG tanker the Happy Bride, flying
the flag of the Isle of Man. The collision occurred at the oil terminal
in Donges, on the boundary of the independent port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire.
The bulb of the Sigmagas pierced the Happy Bride's hull, hitting a tank containing 60 m³ of heavy bunker fuel oil. The two ships were brought alongside the quay. The port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire set up a double floating boom around the Happy Bride, before pumping out the fuel, with help from experts from Total.
The Brest Préfecture Maritime immediately sent the BSAD Alcyon with a response team and antipollution equipment. A CEPPOL officer was sent on site. Four experts from Cedre were sent to the area to help with inspection and to provide advice on response operations.
Analysis of a sample of the fuel in Cedre's laboratory confirmed that the fuel was heavy (density of 0.993) and viscous (viscosity of 27,200 cSt at 10 °C).
Aerial, river and land observation missions carried out by the Gendarmerie, the fire brigade, ITOPF and Cedre helped locate the affected areas when the slick began to drift in the estuary, and to identify the priority clean-up sites.Two stranding booms were set up by FOST (Fast Oil Spill Team) at the arm of the River Taillée (north bank) and the River Percée du Carnet (south bank). A floating boom was used by SMN (Maritime and Navigation Service) on the Pouliguen creek.
Clean-up operations began at the end of the week, on the rocks bordering the Donges refinery and in the week beginning 9 January on the reeded areas and the rough grasslands in the south bank (between the lights at Ramée and Gabon). A mobile team began was responsible for course clean-up then fine clean-up of the oiled beaches and slipways. The rocks on the north bank of the estuary were cleaned manually (collection of beached debris). On 16 January, high pressure flushing began.
Name: Happy Bride
Date: 4 January 2006
Accident area : Donges, Loire estuary
Cause of spill : collision
Quantity spilled : 60 tonnes
Type of pollutant : bunker fuel oil
Ship type : LPG tanker
Flag : Isle of Man
Abordage entre le SIGMAGAS et l'HAPPY BRIDE. Rapport du BEA Mer.
Rapport d'enquête technique, 114 pages (French only).
Ifremer: Oil pollution in the Loire estuary
Location of seashell sample areas: ground zero, 6 January 2006 (French only).
Last update: April 2006