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Accident date
Accident area
Spill area
Cause of spill
Storage tank rupture
Nature of pollutant
Sulphuric acid
Quantity spilled
11,000 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Factory (Chemical plant)

On 4th February 2005, a tank of sulphuric acid collapsed at a chemical plant owned by the Kerima group, in the port area of Helsingborg, in the south of Sweden. As a vessel’s cargo was being loaded, 16,300 tonnes of 96% acid escaped from the storage tank.

Some of the acid was released into the sea, causing an exothermic reaction with the seawater and forming a cloud over the plant.

Cause of the incident

The incident was caused by a burst pipe flooding the ground on which the acid storage tank was standing, weakening the ground and thus causing the tank to collapse.

Protecting the population

An exclusion area was set up and 110,000 local inhabitants were instructed to remain indoors. The wind, blowing in the direction of the sea, promoted the dispersion of the cloud, meaning that this order could be lifted after 4 hours. In all, 13 people were affected by slight breathing difficulties and eye irritation.


The ecological impact was restricted to the flora and fauna within the harbour basin. Acidification of the soil and groundwater around the harbour was reported. Decontamination operations were carried out.

A new storage tank for sulphuric acid and liquid sulphur was built following the incident.  


- China Daily, Environmental report 2005 of Kemira Oyj,
- REMEDE: Resource Equivalency Methods for Assessing Environmental Damage in the EU, 31/10/2008

Last update on 23/07/2014

See also

Cedre Sea and Shore Technical Newsletter 2005, n°9

Sulphuric Acid Chemical Response Guide

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