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MSC Carla

Name
MSC Carla
Accident date
24/11/1997
Location
Portugal
Accident area
off the Azores
Spill area
Offshore
Cause of spill
Structural damage
Nature of pollutant
radioactive products
Quantity spilled
74 containers
Ship / structure type
Container ship
Built date
1986
Flag
Panamanian

The MSC Carla, navigating from Le Havre to Boston (USA), broke in two off the Azores because of a violent storm. The 34 crew members were air-lifted by helicopter to safety. This accident caused the spillage of 74 containers containing high quality wines and spirits, as well as flammable, combustive, poisonous, radioactive and corrosive products, among others.

Products classified as marine pollutants were present in 14 containers. One of them was transporting three biological irradiators equipped with their radioactive sources (cesium 137). These radioactive cells are made to resist to pressure up to 200 m deep. They imploded when they reached the seabed (3,000 m). The French Nuclear Protection and Safety Institute (IPSN) calculated that, as a result of the high depth of immersion (3,000 metres), the dilution effect would limit the risks of exposure concerning the much reduced fauna in the surrounding area. The risks faced by consumers were non-existent, as the fishing techniques used in these areas reached no more than 2,000 metres of depth.

Last update: 02/07/2003