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Accident date
The Channel
Accident area
Spill area
Cause of spill
Weather conditions
Nature of pollutant
pesticides: lindane, permethrin and cypermethrin
Quantity spilled
6 tonnes of lindane + 1 tonne of permethrin + 1 tonne of cypermethrin
Ship / structure type
Container ship

On 13 March 1989, the Panamanian container ship Perintis was en route from Antwerp (Belgium) to Jakarta (Indonesia) when it was caught in a storm in the Channel. It sank off Cherbourg (France) in the Casquets with its cargo partly composed of pesticides: a six tonne container of lindane as well as one tonne of permethrin and one tonne of cypermethrin in drums.

After the crew had been rescued, major operations were conducted to find the containers of pesticides. Meanwhile, fishing was banned in the area around the wreck. On 15 March, the container of lindane was located and taken in tow by the tug Abeille Languedoc towards Cherbourg (France). This attempt failed and the container ended up sinking during the night. Despite search operations, it was unable to be found. Water and fish samples were collected and analysed within a radius of 12 km around the presumed position of the container, but none of them contained an abnormal quantity of lindane. Due to the low solubility of this substance in water, the chosen solution was to leave the container on the seafloor.

As for the other two pesticides (permethrin and cypermethrin), 28 of the 32 drums were located near the wreck and brought to the surface. Despite the 4 missing containers, it was decided to abandon search operations. Given the low solubility of these substances, they were not expected to lead to any extensive pollution if they were to leak from the drums.

Fishing activities continued to be heavily disturbed for 3 to 4 weeks.
Upon the initiative of the French and British governments, a monitoring programme was conducted over several years on water, fish and shellfish samples. No lindane pollution was ever discovered.

Location of the wreck of the Perintis and of the fishing ban area
Location of the wreck of the Perintis and of the fishing ban area


- The Perintis incident, 1992, Summary
- HELCOM, 2002, HELCOM Response Manual - Volume 2
- Water and Environment Journal
- Hansard Millbank Systems

Last update: 29/01/2010