the night of 3 August 1999, the Italian oil tanker Laura d’Amato
spilled around 250 tonnes of light crude oil in Sydney Harbour due
to two valves accidentally being left open after an unloading operation
in the Shell terminal that day.
A large part of the residential sea front was affected by vapours, disturbing the nearby populations, including all the patients in a hospital, who had to be evacuated.
The Sydney Ports Corporation reacted quickly by surrounding the boat with booms to contain the oil. Six vessels were mobilised by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), as well as several dozen skimmers and nearly 300 people forming an intervention squad which was active around the clock from Monday to Friday. Regular overflights surveyed the area and the dissipation of the pollutants.
The Laura d’Amato left Sydney Harbour after paying a bank guarantee of nearly 5 million Euros.
Almost 130 tonnes of oil were recovered during response operations, in part thanks to favourable winds containing all the oil near the coast. The rest of the oil is thought to have evaporated or dispersed naturally.
In March 2000, the court sentenced the Italian company Fratelli d’Amato and the commanding officer to a fine of 510,000 Dollars and 110,000 Dollars respectively.
Name: Laura d'Amato
Date: 3 August 1999
Accident area: Gore Bay, Sydney Harbour
Cause of spill: unloading
Type of pollutant: oil
Quantity spilled: 250 tonnes
Ship type: oil tanker
Length: 241.8 m
Width: 42 m
Last update: July 2007