Nitriles - Safety for Maritime Operations


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   On March 13th, 1989 a Liberian chemical tanker had a massive explosion and fire near the coast of Central Japan. The tanker was carrying 25700 tons of chemicals, including 7000 tons of highly toxic acrylonitrile and various amounts of caustic soda and methanole. The explosion was of such a magnitude that the ship's crew was not able to send a distress signal. Fire and rescue teams could not board the ship due to toxic gases, fire, and continuing explosions. The tanker burned for five days before sinking. All 23 crew members were killed... The safe handling of nitriles is critically important to everyone involved in nitriles operations. The health effects associated with the explosion of these chemicals are very severe and possibly life threatening. However, we can limit or eliminate the risk if we are aware of the factors that lead to unsafe conditions.

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