Overheated Cargo Tanks Lead To Explosion On Tanker



On September 28, 2018, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board exploded due to runaway polymerization. The disaster resulted in the emission of a large amount of vapors into the atmosphere, causing a significant fire.

The emergency services’ firefighting efforts lasted more than six hours, involving over 700 people and 117 fire vehicles, pumps, and fire tugs.


During investigation, it was found that

1. The explosions on board were probably caused by the rupture of the deck above cargo tank, followed immediately by the ignition of the styrene monomer vapour that was then released.

2. The rupture was due to over-pressurisation and the likely sources of the ignition were static electricity, sparks or elevated steel deck plate temperatures resulting from
the tank rupture.

3. The styrene monomer temperature was not monitored.

Lesson learnt

  • Adhere to the carriage and storage instructions details on the safety data sheet, the certifcate of inhibitor, and those provided by the charterer.
  • Witness the addition of inhibitor into each cargo tank.
  • Closely monitor cargo temperature for unexplained increases.

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Source: GOV.UK




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