MT Haven Oil Spill

On 11 April 1991, a massive explosion ripped through the MT (motor tanker) Haven while the vessel was unloading a large cargo of oil from the Multedo oil platform near Genoa, Italy. The resulting fire swept through the ship killing five members of the crew. Three days later it sank. The disaster spilled more than 44 million gallons of crude oil into Genoa harbor and the adjacent Tyrrhenian Sea, more than was spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska two years earlier. In spite of this, a massive cleanup effort on the part of Italian authorities limited the scale of the disaster. Much of the oil was burned at the surface and more was pumped out of the burning ship. Still, for the next decade fisheries along the French and Italian coast suffered severe environmental damage from pollution. The very large crude carrier was owned by the American petroleum company Amoco (now part of BP) and was registered to Cyprus.

Contributed by Connor Haas
Course: Modern Global Environmental History
Instructor: Dr. Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
University of Wisconsin–Madison, US

Further Readings: 
  • Jernelöv, Arne. "The Threats from Oil Spills: Now, Then, and in the Future." Ambio: A Journal of the Human Environment 39, no. 6 (2010): 353–66.
  • Nixon, Will. "Life after an oil spill." E: The Environmental Magazine 6, no. 2 (1995): 18.