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 Panam Perla

SpillsPanam Perla

On 10 November 1998, the chief mate of the chemical tanker the Panam Perla discovered that the 100 tonnes of sulphuric acid missing from one of the tanks were in the compartments of the double hull of the ship, due to a rupture in the water tightness of the tank.

The corrosive action of the acid in the presence of water in the double hull produced hydrogen and could have led to an explosion and the spilling of 10,000 tonnes of acid into the sea.

The vessel was a day's journey from a chemical terminal, and was given permission to unload the cargo and empty the double hull. After inerting the ballasts, permission was given to pump out the acid and the intervention team used a submersible pump.

The team could not be equipped with heavy protective equipment because of the diameter of the manholes. They therefore had to resort to light protective acid resistant clothing and a piped air supply, with small canisters of air positionned along the way in case of a sudden leak.

Pumping operations were completed a week after the leak was discovered. The 3 missing tonnes of sulphuric acid were neutralised by bicarbonate.

Name: Panam Perla

Date: 10 November 1998

Location: USA

Accident area: Wilmington, North Carolina

Cause of spill: damage to ship

Quantity transported: 10,000 tonnes

Type of pollutant: sulphuric acid

Quantity spilled: 100 tonnes

Ship type: chemical tanker

Date built: 1994

Place built: Japan

Last update: April 2006

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