Fish, jellyfish, molluscs, giant squids and weird, luminescent critters from the deep Atlantic, a good tip: go your way. The carcass of the freighter “Grande America”, which will soon be rust at 4600 meters deep on the abyssal plain, is fraught with threats.
This Thursday, the authorities acceded to the request made by the Robin des Bois association to the Secretary General of the Sea (who is attached to the services of the Prime Minister). During a meeting convened in Brest by the maritime prefect, the vice-admiral of the squadron Jean-Louis Lozier, they communicated the preliminary inventory of the cargo which is based on the declarations of the shipowner. Robin des Bois welcomes this exercise in transparency, “a first in the history of global maritime accidents”. However, the content of the list hardly incites celebration.
1,050 tonnes of classified hazardous materials
More than 1050 tonnes of hazardous materials were on board during the sinking, which occurred on March 12, 330 kilometers west of La Rochelle. “This classification is useful for maritime safety. It avoids placing in the same place in the boat incompatible products, likely to react chemically if they come into contact. But products considered non-dangerous can be very harmful to the marine environment. Resins and plastics will disperse in the environment. They are chemically toxic to living organisms that encounter them. They are also mechanically toxic since they can be mistaken for prey, be ingested and cause the death of animals, ”explains Charlotte Nithart, director of Robin des Bois.
These “non-dangerous” goods are counted in number of containers. There are thus 23 containers of “non-dangerous” chemicals on board, 18 containers of fertilizer, seven containers of resins, five of lubricants or even a container of polyester fibers (synthetic textile). Among the products that are indeed dangerous and classified as such by regulations, there are 720 tonnes of hydrochloric acid, 16 tonnes of White Spirit, 82 tonnes of sulfuric acid and 85 tonnes of sodium hydrogen sulphide, a product that has several industrial uses, for bleaching materials for example . The inventory does not end there. Tons of fire starters, aerosols, biocides etc. have been loaded.
Part burned in the fire
At such a depth, the cost of the operation would be so great that we never will.
In this toxic jumble, it is impossible to know what was burned in the fire that raged before the sinking, what was scattered at sea and what is still locked in the sides of the wreck. “On the sole level of technical feasibility, we can consider going to recover this cargo. But at such a depth, the cost of the operation would be so high that we will never do it, ”risks Charlotte Nithart.
According to Robin des Bois, only the proven presence of sealed radioactive sources on board could encourage the authorities to force the shipowner, Grimaldi Group, to launch an operation of this nature.. The hypothesis is not far-fetched. Freighters sometimes carry radioactive instruments intended for industry. Such objects do not appear on the preliminary inventory of the cargo ship. “We know that there is a certain proportion of false declarations in the cargoes, between 4% and 10%. We will be clear about this when we have more information,” comments Charlotte Nithart.
A sunken car wreck
“A car wreck of some 2,100 vehicles is forever engulfed in the great darkness of the Atlantic abyss”
“Additional information has been requested from Grimaldi Group. It should make it possible to complete the initial analysis of the load carried out by the maritime prefecture and thus to understand in the most exhaustive way possible all the environmental issues related to this shipwreck“, specifies for its part the maritime prefecture of the Atlantic.
Be that as it may, for everyone, leaving it to rest at the bottom does indeed seem reasonable. 2,100 vehicles is forever engulfed in the great darkness of the Atlantic abyss. There were three used motorhomes on board the “Grande America”. Considering the additional discount to argus which must be applied to them since their plunge on March 12 …
- Here is the detail of the cargo of the Grande America
This list was communicated to the Robin des Bois association by the authorities
1779 light vehicles. 1212 new and 567 used. 42 used utilities. 3 used motorhomes. 64 construction machines. 44 new and 20 used. 22 buses. 20 new and 2 used. 190 heavy goods vehicles. 43 new and 147 used. “Also note 370 packages in bulk”
Dangerous goods within the meaning of IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code) and estimated quantity in tonnes:
720 t of hydrochloric acid. 85 t of sodium hydrogen sulphide [utilisé par exemple pour précipiter les métaux lourds, dans le tannage des peaux et en agent de blanchiment]. 82 t of sulfuric acid. 62 t of resin in solution. 25 t of prothioconazole [fongicide]. 16 t of White Spirit. 15 t of fire lighters. 14 t of zinc phosphate. 9 t of aerosols Alkanes C14-C17 chloro technical. 7.5 t of fuel cell vehicles. 7.2 t of perfume products. 5.3 t of 5-chloro-2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one + 2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one. 2.2 t of polyethersiloxane [agent de polymérisation utilisé notamment dans l’industrie cosmétique]. 0.04 t of isododecane. 0.02 t of dimethicone isododecane 0.02 t of ethanol. 0.009 t of aerosols. 0.003 t of pressurized helium.
Non-dangerous goods (in the IMDG sense) in containers:
Paper: 62 containers. Miscellaneous: 55 containers. Food: 45 containers. Steel: 24 containers. Non-hazardous chemicals: 23 containers. Fertilizer: 18 containers. Cars: 10 containers. Wood: 10 containers. Starch: 8 containers. Machines: 8 containers. Cereals: 7 containers. Resins: 7 containers. Spare parts: 7 containers. Mat: 5 containers. Lubricants: 5 containers. Metals and alloys: 4 containers. Recycling: 4 containers. “Personal effects”: 4 containers. Glass: 3 containers. Pet food: 3 containers. Beer: 2 containers. Tires: 2 containers. Tissues and toilet paper: 1 container. Empty boxes: 1 container. Boats / spare parts: 1 container. Polyester fibers: 1 container.
State of the bunkers:
190 tonnes of MGO (marine diesel). 2200 tonnes of IFO 380 (intermediate fuel oil). 70,000 liters of oil.