The “Panama Serena” had arrived at Porto Torres on 31 December 2003 with a cargo of Benzene and cut C6 (C6), the Benzene discharge had been complete and the vessel was close to completion of discharge of the C6. All cargo tanks were loaded upon arrival at Porto Torres, except No.4C which was washed, clean and dry. At approximately 11:55 on 01 January 2004, as the cargo deck watch was changing, the vessel was shaken by the first in a series of violent explosions, which resulted in an intense fire amidships, within the cargo tank area of the vessel.

Wolter van der Pers was invited by the salvage company to advise upon safe removal of the remaining cargo of the highly toxic benzene . Main duties were contingency planning, hotwork permits and the issuing of safe entry permits for benzene contaminated areas.

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