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No. 6/94 Edited by DSO-245 SHIP TYPE: Chemical Tanker SIZE(GRT): 6500 BUILT YEAR: 1970 LOSS OF
No. 6/94 Edited by DSO-245 SHIP TYPE: Chemical Tanker SIZE(GRT): 6500 BUILT YEAR: 1970 LOSS OF
No. 6/94 Edited by DSO-245 SHIP TYPE: Chemical Tanker SIZE(GRT): 6500 BUILT YEAR: 1970 LOSS OF
No. 6/94 Edited by DSO-245

No. 6/94

Edited by DSO-245

Edited by DSO-245
SHIP TYPE: Chemical Tanker SIZE(GRT): 6500 BUILT YEAR: 1970

SHIP TYPE: Chemical Tanker

SIZE(GRT): 6500

BUILT YEAR: 1970

BUILT YEAR: 1970
 

LOSS OF CHEMICAL TANKER DUE TO LEAKAGE OF SULPHURIC ACID CARGO

 

Course of Events

During unloading of a sulphuric acid cargo from a chemical tanker, a leakage of acid into one of the cargo pump rooms occurred. Attempts were made

 

to neutralize and remove the acid by water flushing and transferring the liquid to a cargo tank. However, the leakage continued and more water was added. After some time the corrosive action of the acid-water mixture caused leakage of acid into the double bottom spaces. The acid ‘ate’ its way through the double bottom spaces and eventually through the cofferdam and into the engine room.

The vessel could not be saved and ended up as a total constructive loss.

Probable Cause

The cause of the leakage is not known, but failure of shaft seals of cargo pumps or leakage in suction piping are probable sources. The vessel had cargo tanks and cargo piping made of stainless steel. The pump rooms were arranged with stainless steel floors, and the bulkheads had stainless steel from the bottom up to a height of 1 m. Therefore a leakage of acid into the pump room should not have represented any immediate danger, since stainless steel is resistant to sulphuric acid of commercial concentrations.

 

Stainless steel is not, however, resistant to all concentrations of sulphuric acid. At temperatures around 20°C, concentrations between 25% and 82% will corrode stainless steel. At higher temperatures the dangerous range widens, and at 60°C practically all concentrations lower than 98% will corrode stainless steel. When water is mixed with sulphuric acid, a chemical reaction producing heat takes place and the visible sign of this is generation of ‘smoke’, which is actually vapour. What apparently caused an initially non-critical situation to develop into a total loss of the vessel, was that the acid through dilution with water became extremely corrosive and could no longer be contained by the stainless steel.

Lessons to be Learned

Do not dilute acid leakages unless one is sure that sufficient dilution may be achieved rapidly (within minutes) and that the diluted acid may readily be

 

disposed of (to sea or to non-metallic containers). Such a decision may sometimes be difficult due to heavy vapourisation (smoke) caused by water already present.

It is important that personnel on board are fully aware of the dangerous properties of chemical cargoes and that corrective actions are pre-planned for typical hazardous situations.

Where chemical tankers are intended for carriage of acids, it is a requirement that arrangements for safely containing cargo leakages in cargo pump rooms are provided. Furthermore, it is required that the bilge pumping arrangements for the pump rooms are acid-resistant.

It should therefore be fully possible to drain the pump room safely in the event of

It should therefore be fully possible to drain the pump room safely in the event of a limited acid leakage.

It should therefore be fully possible to drain the pump room safely in the event of

Casualty Information is published by Det Norske Veritas, Classification Support.

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