On Friday 19 February 2010, the Italian tug Francia was towing the container ship CMA CGM Strauss, 1.5 nautical miles south of the port of Genoa-Voltri (Italy). A collision between the two ships pierced a hole in one of the container ship’s bunker tanks, causing a spill of an estimated 180 tonnes of HFO 500.
The Strauss’ crew immediately took all the necessary measures to stop the oil spill, in particular by transferring the contents of the damaged tank into other bunker tanks and by causing the vessel to list. The fuel leak was therefore rapidly controlled and the Strauss and the Francia were able to return to dock safely.
The Italian authorities were rapidly alerted and provided specialised offshore spill response means. Despite these efforts, some of the oil slicks escaped and were pushed by the Ligurian current towards the French Côte d’Azur from 23 February. On the same day, the Italian authorities requested the activation of the Ramogepol plan (designed to coordinate spill response means), rapidly followed by the French authorities which, as a precaution, activated the ORSEC maritime contingency procedure. As the days went by, this extremely scattered pollution, spread over an extensive area, drifted off the coast of the Côte d’Azur, without presenting a major threat, as it was carried by a constant Ligurian current parallel to the coast and by strong winds pushing it offshore. The French area covered by aerial surveillance means and oil spill response vessels stretched from south of Nice to south of Cap Camarat.
Upon request by the French Mediterranean maritime authorities, an expert from Cedre joined the crisis unit set up. After discussion with Cedre's Emergency Response Department, the initially considered possibility of dispersing the HFO 500 was rapidly discarded by the French authorities.
The Strauss (source: CMA CGM)
Response at sea
A Foilex skimmer was used onboard the Italian oil spill response vessel San Giacomo, from which it was directly placed on the patches of fresh oil. The Italian authorities announced that they had recovered around 140 m3 of products (seemingly an oil/water mixture). On the French coast, the Hiwax skimmer head onboard the oil spill response vessel (OSRV) Ailette was also used to directly pump patches measuring up to 2 metres in diameter. This “patch by patch” recovery strategy and use of the Transrec 250 Hiwax version enabled the collection of some of the patches of pollutant detected by aerial means. In order to improve recovery by concentrating slicks, the decision was made on 25 February to deploy 300 m of Aérazur 210 inflatable boom, towed between the Ailette and the private tug boat Laisse Dire III chartered by CMA CGM. The Strauss was repaired in the port of Genoa and became operational again on 27 February 2010 when it set sail for Asia.
Accident area: 1.5 NM south of the port of Genoa-Voltri, Italy
Cause of spill: collision
Type of pollutant: HFO 500
Quantity spilled: 180 tonnes
Ship type: container ship, capacity 5782 TEU
Date built: 2004
Length: 277.28 m
Owner: CMA CGM
The same day, two French Navy ships Chevreuil and Bélier conducted tarball recovery operations using scoop nets some twenty nautical miles offshore. The response effort was gradually phased out over the following days. On 5 March, the Mediterranean maritime authorities announced the deactivation of the ORSEC maritime procedure as well as of the crisis management unit.
Sheen around the Strauss (source: Marine nationale)
Response techniques deployed
Last update: 03/08/2011