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On 20 March 1970, following a collision involving the Swedish tanker Othello, 60,000 to 100,000 tonnes of heavy fuel oil (IFO 380) were spilt into the sea in Tralhavet Bay (Sweden).

Under the effect of the low temperature (- 10°C at the surface), a large part of the oil turned into blocks, 45 to 60 cm in diameter, which sank to the bottom. The agglomerates measuring a few centimetres in diameter remaining at the surface were burnt using a porous agent composed of fine particles of silica, to pull the fuel to the surface and promote its combustion. The presence of ice in the sea meant that dispersants, sorbents and floating booms could not be used.

The incident resulted in the pollution of around 30 km of coastline, but no damage to flora and fauna was reported.


  • Banque de données sur les accidents de navire ayant provoqué un déversement de pétrole en mer supérieur à 500 tonnes - Volume II - 1970-1974, Janvier 1979, Institut Français du Pétrole

Name: Othello

Date: 20 March 1970

Location: Sweden

Accident area: Tralhavet Bay, Vaxholm

Cause of spill: collision

Type of pollutant: heavy fuel oil (IFO 380)

Quantity spilled: 60,000 - 100,000 tonnes

Ship type: tanker

Date built: 1969

Flag: Swedish

Last update: April 2009

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