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Ievoli Sun

Ievoli Sun
Accident date
Accident area
45 nautical miles from Batz, Brittany
Spill area
Cause of spill
Structural damage
Product transported
MEK: 1, 027 tonnes, IPA: 996 tonnes, styrene: 3, 998 tonnes, IFO 180 (heavy fuel oil): 160 tonnes, diesel: 40 tonnes
Nature of pollutant
Methylethylketone: MEK, Isopropyl alcohol: IPA, styrene, IFO 180, diesel
Ship / structure type
Chemical tanker
Built date
Esercizion Cantieri-Viareggio (Italy)
115 m
6.29 m
P&I Club
Standard Steamship Owners
Classification society


On 30 October 2000, at 4:30 am, the MRCC (Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre), CROSS Corsen, received a distress call from the Ievoli Sun, a chemical tanker flying the Italian flag. The vessel, en route from Fawley (UK) to Barcelona with 14 crew members and 6,000 tonnes of chemicals, was 45 nautical miles north of the island of Batz in the midst of a storm.

The captain reported a leak in the bow section of the double bottom. The Atlantic maritime Prefect in Brest sent the Abeille Flandre, based at Ushant island, to assist the vessel. A Super Frelon helicopter and an evaluation team arrived on site at 8:05 am and, considering the gravity of the situation, began to winch the crew to safety. The rescue operation ended successfully at 9:20 am. At 12:00, the maritime Prefect activated the POLMAR Sea Plan.

The Abeille Flandre's has arrived in the area. The weather and sea conditions in the area at that time made the risk of grounding obvious, therefore creating a major pollution threat on the Côtes d'Armor coast. After studying the possible options, a team was winched aboard the Ievoli Sun and passed a tow to the Abeille Flandre. Towing began at 5:15 pm, at 4 knots heading northeast, the only possible route given both the weather and sea conditions and the vessel's position.

On 31 October, at 9:00 am, two thirds of the way towards the shelter of the Cotentin peninsula, the Ievoli Sun sank to a depth of 70 m, 9 nautical miles north of the Casquets (12 nautical miles from Alderney and 20 nautical miles from the Cap de la Hague).



Within a few hours, the Maritime Prefect for the Channel and the North Sea, based in Cherbourg, took over operations on the French side. The information he was provided with, as of late afternoon on 30 October was that the vessel was carrying 160 tonnes of heavy fuel and 40 tonnes of diesel, and that the cargo was made up of 3,998 tonnes of styrene, 1,027 tonnes of methyl ethyl ketone (MEK) and 996 tonnes of isopropyl alcohol (IPA).



Quantity (tonnes)

3 998


Shell, Holland


Rotterdam, Netherlands


Berre, France

 Methylethylketone (MEK)

Quantity (tonnes)

1 027


Exxon, United Kingdom


Fawley, United Kingdom


Genoa, Italy

 Isopropyl alcohol (IPA)

Quantity (tonnes)



Esso Chemical, Belgium


Rotterdam, Netherlands


Barcelona, Spain

To avoid potential risks of air pollution from styrene and marine pollution from fuel, general surveillance missions began immediately with the help of French and British vessels and aircraft. The wreck was marked out with beacon buoys and maritime traffic was diverted. Initial observations showed only a small number of slicks.

Response organisation

The vessel sank in international waters, at the boundary between French, British and the Channel Islands' territory. Within the framework of the Manche Plan, the English authorities sent Maritime and Coastal Agency (MCA) representatives to Cherbourg where the maritime Prefect had activated the POLMAR Command Centre. On Tuesday 31 October, at 7:00 pm, the Channel Departmental Prefect implemented the POLMAR Land Plan and set up the POLMAR Command Centre at Saint-Lô Prefecture.

On 1 November, the French Western Area of Defence, co-ordinator of the POLMAR-Terre (Land) plan, set up an emergency centre in its Command Centre in Rennes, which was still working on the Erika pollution.

In-depth discussions, led by the Secrétaire Général de la Mer, were held with national experts and the shipowner’s advisers, over the technical solutions for mitigating the risks generated by the wreck. With the agreement of the English and French authorities, the shipowner and their P&I Club contracted Smit Tak Co. on 10 April 2001 to implement response operations on the cargo of the Ievoli Sun: controlled release of the MEK, IPA and diesel then pumping out of the styrene and the heavy fuel oil. Wreck treatment operations were completed on 31st May 2001.

International cooperation was very quick and efficient during this incident. The Manche Plan was activated with the United Kingdom, which was closely involved in all phases of the operation. The Neuwerk, a German specialised vessel, was mobilised through the Bonn Agreement. The exchange of information with the European Commission was ongoing throughout the incident. At the initiative of the Italian Government, 7 experts came to assist their French counterparts as part of the European Task Force.

One year on from the Erika accident, the Ievoli Sun spill reminds us that accidental pollution from oil tankers is not the only danger which threatens our coasts. In terms of human safety in the sphere of marine pollution, chemical tankers can be an even larger threat, because of the chemicals they transport, as well, of course, as their bunker fuel.

Furthermore, this accident has proved to us once again the limits of our knowledge in this domain, both in terms of:

  • the behaviour of chemicals when in contact with seawater or when trapped in the tanks of a ship which has sunk,
  • their potential impact on marine flora and fauna.

In this example, environmental and economic factors are once again inextricably linked.


Last update on 14/08/2020

See also

Methyl ethyl ketone, Chemical response guide

Styrene, Chemical response guide

Paper presented by S. Le Floch at the Interspill Conference, 11-16th March 2002 in Brest: "The Ievoli Sun shipwreck: styrene toxicity and olfactory threshold in marine organisms"

External links

Incident report available on the website Rempec

Isopropyl alcohol, International Chemical Safety Card (ICSC)

Methyl ethyl ketone, International Chemical Safety Card (ICSC)

Styrene, International Chemical Safety Card (ICSC)

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