Shell says sunken tanker not an environmental disaster

Shell France SA says the styrene cargo of the sunken tanker Ievoli Sun won't have a long-term impact on the marine environment. The tanker, owned by the Italian firm Marnavi, sank Tuesday morning in severe weather about 12 nautical miles northwest of Alderney in the Channel Islands off France.


LONDON�Shell France SA says the styrene cargo of the sunken tanker Ievoli Sun won't have a long term impact on the marine environment.

The tanker, owned by the Italian firm Marnavi, sank Tuesday morning in severe weather about 12 nautical miles northwest of Alderney in the Channel Islands off France. The crew had been air lifted off the tanker and the vessel, which was taking on water, was being towed to Cherbourg, France, when it sank in heavy seas.

A Shell Chemicals spokesman said, "Styrene is neither carcinogenic in humans nor corrosive. It is biodegradable, and if it escapes from the vessel it will partly dissolve in water and then evaporate in the atmosphere."

Shell also said a "leak could lead to a local impact on marine life, but the effects do not persist and it will not remain in the food chain."

Shell France Chairman Christian Balmes yesterday joined company marine and chemicals experts helping French authorities evaluate potential environmental hazards. Shell said early concerns about to the long-term toxic impact of styrene, which is used in polymer manufacture, were unfounded. It said it would help French authorities minimize the impact of a leak from the sunken ship and draft contingency plans.

A Shell Chemicals said, "We will of course hold an inquiry to establish how this happened and to find out what can be done to prevent it happening again. It must be stressed that the ship is only 11 years old and is purpose built for carrying chemicals. She has a double hull and has been regularly inspected and passed by the competent authorities."

Shell said the vessel had been inspected in Rotterdam Oct. 23.

The tanker, which had a 7,336 tonne capacity, was carrying 3,998 tonnes of styrene, 996 tonnes of isopropyl alcohol, 1,027 tonnes of methyl ethyl ketone, 170 tonnes of intermediate fuel oil, 45 tonnes of gasoil, and 16 tonnes of lubricants.

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