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Puerto Rican

Name
Puerto Rican
Accident date
31/10/1984
Location
USA
Accident area
Pacific Ocean, 8 miles west of Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay
Spill area
Port/harbour
Cause of spill
Explosion
Product transported
caustic soda
Nature of pollutant
caustic soda
Quantity spilled
400 à 500 m³
Ship / structure type
Chemical tanker
Flag
USA

The chemical tanker Puerto Rican was devastated in October 1984 by several explosions and fires in one of her empty central tanks and in the adjacent lateral tanks. Caustic soda infiltrated into an empty adjacent tank through a small hole in one of the tank walls.

The caustic soda reacted with the epoxy coating, rich in zinc, on the tank walls and the structure of the empty tank, releasing hydrogen. This gas ignited, due to contact between metals or an electrostatic discharge. Four days after the explosion, the vessel’s stern broke off and sank.

In the incident, two people were seriously injured and one was reported missing, presumed dead..

Last update: 29/06/2011

See also

Sodium hydroxyde, Chemical Response Guide