Staff Reporter
CARGO ship ”Lucia B” left Tarragona for Palma and during the early hours of Wednesday morning, lost a 17-tonne barrel of nitrogen when violent sea movement rocked the vessel.

The captain decided to change direction and headed for Alcudia where ”Lucia B” arrived at 7.20am on Wednesday morning. The Balearic government, through its Emergencies department, were prepared to handle any incidents that might occur when the ship unloaded but her cargo was taken off without any problem.

Government sources confirmed that the barrel sunk some 30 sea miles north of the island of Sa Dragonera in 1'500 metres of water.
Nevertheless, a group of experts from the Balearic University (UIB) have studied the case and believe that the giant barrel is still floating. This raised the question of possible danger for craft navigating in the area.

José Ramón Bergueiro, a senior figure in Chemical Engineering explained yesterday that only some 20 centimetres of the barrel would remain protruding above the water, the bulk of 80 percent would remain submerged. Bergueiro has looked at the situation carefully over the last three days with colleagues Francisca Serra and Amalia Santos.

The three experts used computer aids including “Oilmap” which was orginally harnessed to detect floating oil slicks, such as in the case of the ”Prestige”. It has subsequently been adapted at the Balearic University to search for local shipwrecks and lost containers. Combining this data with meteorological information, the three claimed to have plotted the coordinates of the barrel's whereabouts yesterday, estimated to be at 35.2 sea miles from Dragonera. Salvage teams, acting on this advice, have failed to locate the barrel. “It's a danger for shipping in the area” confirmed the experts. “If there is a collision, there could be an explosion. If the nitrogen has in fact sunk, it doesn't present an environmental threat”.

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