The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) have published a safety report and recommendations following the cargo tank explosion on the chemical tanker Stolt Groenland in 2019.
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer onboard the Cayman Islands-registered Stolt Groenland ruptured due to runaway polymerisation. This rupture released a large amount of vapour into the atmosphere, which then ignited.
Fire-fighting efforts by the emergency services took over six hours and involved more than 700 personnel and 117 units of fire trucks, pumps and fire tugs.
The MAIB note three safety issues:
- The styrene monomer was affected by other heated cargo tanks
- Heat transfer from other cargoes was not fully appreciated
- The styrene monomer temperature was not monitored
MAIB has made recommendations to Stolt Tankers B.V. aimed at ensuring the wider marine chemical sector benefits from the lessons learned from the Stolt Focus incident and research initiatives that were carried out as a result of the accident.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and INTERTANKO have been asked to publicise MAIB's report to their members.
Recommendations have also been made to the Cayman Islands Shipping Registry, the Chemical Distribution Institute and Plastics Europe (Styrene Producers Association). The aim is to assist in ensuring that the guidance provided in certificates of inhibitor and styrene monomer handling guides is consistent and achievable given the limitations of equipment and testing facilities onboard.
The full report can be accessed via the MAIB website.