The MSC Carla, navigating from Le Havre to Boston
(USA), broke in two off the Azores because of a violent storm. The
34 crew members were air-lifted by helicopter to safety. This accident
caused the spillage of 74 containers containing high
quality wines and spirits, as well as flammable, combustive,
poisonous, radioactive and corrosive products, among others.
Products classified as marine pollutants were present in 14 containers. One of them was transporting three biological irradiators equipped with their radioactive sources (cesium 137). These radioactive cells are made to resist to pressure up to 200 m deep. They imploded when they reached the seabed (3,000 m). The French Nuclear Protection and Safety Institute (IPSN) calculated that, as a result of the high depth of immersion (3,000 metres), the dilution effect would limit the risks of exposure concerning the much reduced fauna in the surrounding area. The risks faced by consumers were non-existent, as the fishing techniques used in these areas reached no more than 2,000 metres of depth.
Name: MSC Carla
Date: 24 November 1997
Accident area: off the Azores
Cause of spill: damage to ship
Type of pollutant: radioactive products
Quantity spilled: 74 containers
Ship type: container ship
Date built: 1986
Last update: April 2011