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Accident date
Accident area
off the coast of Royan, Atlantic coast
Spill area
Cause of spill
Structural damage
Quantity transported
6, 240 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
Quantity spilled
6, 240 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Container ship

On 21 January 1998, a tank container adrift at sea off the coast of Royan, was signalled by Spanish fishermen. Markings on the tanks indicated that it contained a chemical classified as toxic and flammable called Novoktan.

At first, no information was found to identify the product from only its brand name. Subsequent contact via email with our Canadian colleagues at Canutec, informed us that Novoktan was made by a German firm, Novoktan Gmbh.

Contact with the German correspondent for the European chemical industry environmental safety network allowed us to immediately obtain the safety data sheet about the product, lead tetraethyl, which is a toxic compound. Three tanks containing this substance had been declared as lost at sea on 31 December 1997 by the Kairo, a ship heading for the Channel, off the Spanish coast.

Contacts between the Novoktan company and the French authorities ensured safe intervention for recovery operations at sea and onshore storage. A second container was located on 10 March, drifting in the Bay of Biscay. The third one was located at sea on 28 April next to the Landes coast. All 3 containers were successfully recovered by the French navy and taken care of by Novoktan.

Last update: 19/02/2007