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Accident date
Accident area
off Nova Scotia, Canada, North Atlantic
Spill area
Cause of spill
Quantity transported
132, 000 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
North Sea crude oil
Quantity spilled
132, 000 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Oil tanker
275 m
43 m

On 10 November 1988, the oil tanker Odyssey, carrying 132,000 tonnes of North Sea crude oil, was travelling in the North Atlantic on its journey from Scotland to Canada, when it was caught in a storm, 700 miles off the Canadian coast.

The Odyssey sent out a distress call which was received by Radio Valentia in Ireland and transferred to the Canadian Rescue Coordination Centre. The centre alerted the vessels in the area. A Russian weather ship, Passat, responded to the Odyssey's distress call and was on site in less than an hour. Once on site however, it was unable to approach the vessel as it was surrounded by ignited oil slicks.

Before nightfall, a Canadian Coast Guard plane flew over the area and reported on the state of the wreck. It had broken in two; the stern section had sunk and the bow section appeared just at the surface. There was no trace of the 27 crew members.

Following the incident, an oil slick 16 km long by 5 km wide drifted eastwards. The slick drifted out to sea and never reached the shore. The rough sea promoted natural dispersion. No response actions were taken.
The Odyssey incident was the sixth largest oil spill at sea by an oil tanker.


N. Hookes, Maritime Casualties 1963-1996, p. 457

Alain R. Bertrand Transport Maritime et pollution accidentelle par le pétrole – Faits et chiffres (1951-1999), p. 89 et p. 95.

ITOPF Information Services, Case Histories - O

Last update on 27/07/2012
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