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Accident date
Accident area
Tancarville Bridge, the river Seine
Spill area
Inland waters
Cause of spill
Nature of pollutant
Quantity spilled
15 tonnes
Ship / structure type
Oil tanker
Built date
164 m
20 m

On 23 June 1987, the Japanese tanker the Fuyoh Maru, with a damaged helm, collided with the Greek tanker the Vitoria on the river Seine, upstream of Tancarville bridge. The Vitoria went on fire, then a series of explosions shook the ship. The commanding officer, the pilot and four members of the crew were killed in the blasts. The tanker sank on the spot.

Rescue and fire fighting operations were given first priority. Then operations to respond to the, relatively small-scale, pollution were organised. Initial estimates of the pollution identified around 30 kilometres of oiled banks along the Caudebec river. Sheen and thicker discontinuous trails of pollutant formed parallel to the bank. The volume of free oil floating on the surface was estimated between 15 and 20 tonnes.
This scattered pollution was difficult to treat as it would have required unacceptable quantities of dispersants. Furthermore, the lack of agitation of the water and its low salinity reduced the potential effectiveness of dispersion. This would therefore bring a risk of spreading the pollution and of increasing the impact on the river banks.
No close protection of the wreck was possible for a number of different reasons: fuel escaping from the wreck and reappearing at the surface sometimes as much as 100 metres from where it escaped, current speed…

A mobile recovery system was set up on the river Seine. The technique used was approved during the Polseine 2 experiment. A barge from the Polmar stockpile in Le Havre operated 24/7, fitted with a skimmer boom with a deflection system. A second model, from the Dunkirk stockpile, subsequently took the relay.
A small boom and pumping device were also deployed on the quay and proved to be very effective. As for the banks, clean-up operations began as soon as the contents of the bunkers had been pumped out.
The remains of the Vitoria were hoisted onto the banks of the Seine, and were taken to the scrapyard in September 1987.

Last update on 10/04/2007
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