A chemical reaction leads to a very big bang

Back in September, the chemical tanker Stolt Groenland experienced a massive explosion in Ulsan, South Korea.  This clip was taken by the dashcam video of a vehicle parked rather too close to the big bang.

An initial investigation has revealed it was caused by a chemical reaction.

According to the MAIB’s interim report, released today, the explosion occurred due to the sudden build-up of pressure in the Stolt Groenland’s number 9 cargo tank containing styrene monomer, a highly flammable chemical used in the making of plastics, paints and synthetic rubber. The resulting explosions and fireball could be seen and heard for miles, and passed very close to a road bridge above where the Stolt Groenland was moored.

Amazingly, only relatively minor injuries were sustained by crew members of the vessels and emergency responders. Damage to the Stolt Groenland’s cargo manifold and accommodation block, however, were extensive.

There’s more at the link.

I’m glad I wasn’t driving across the nearby freeway bridge when the ship went boom!  Here’s what it looked like from that perspective.

Yep . . . definitely glad I wasn’t near that one!  I wonder if there’ll be any long-term effects on the ship’s crew and/or emergency response personnel after exposure to that stuff?



  1. That was a BIG one… And an interesting 'cause', for which there is little detail. I'm betting we'll never know the impact on the crew/responders. That'll be buried.

  2. Hey Peter;

    I wonder if the NORKS are involved in this. The North's special operation groups are pretty good and economic sabotage of the hated imperialistic puppets is a stated goal.

  3. Caused by a chemical reaction? Other than a nuclear explosion, aren't all explosions chemical by definition?

    Their initial indication appears to cover everything from something accidentally igniting to a bomb planted on the ship to am missile strike.

  4. Chuck,
    dashcams record continuously. Impacts, loud noises, or manual triggering locks the memory prior to that point. Good systems have front and rear cameras. Best ones have 360* views. (4 cameras with software that stitches the view to make it panoramic.

    Check out Russian dashcam videos, they are very entertaining! "John Conner" is a good channel for this. (Insurance there requires it for coverage, too much fraud)

  5. Styrene monomer, with a bit of catalyst or bad luck, can auto-polymerize in an exothermic reaction. Big boom, and it would only take a trace amount of contaminant to start reaction.

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