September 3, 2005
Crew members killed in cruise ship sewage gas leak
Three members of the crew of Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Sea were killed yesterday in an incident involving leakage of toxic gas from the ship's sewage system into a confined space.
Reportedly, crew members were replacing a section of pipe connected to the ship's sewage system when about five gallons of raw sewage and an unknown amount of gas was expelled into the a propeller shaft tunnel where they were working.
The ship was docked in Los Angeles at Berth 93A in San Pedro and the Los Angeles Fire Department says that it responded quickly to reports of as many as five patients down.
According to the Fire Department further investigation revealed an unknown gas had overcome several members of the shipÕs crew, while conducting routine maintenance in the propeller shaft on the starboard side of the ship.
"During the maintenance operation," says a Fire Department statement, "a large portion of pipe was removed which was responsible for releasing a gas, later determined to be Hydrogen Sulfide. Hydrogen Sulfide is a colorless gas with an offensive stench, similar to rotten eggs. It is considered to be extremely hazardous with a density 18 percent greater than air."
Two patients were initially reported to be in cardiac arrest, and a third was later confirmed, bringing the death total to three fatalities. Approximately 20 additional crewmembers were affected. All were treated on scene and transported to local hospitals. Among them were two ship's physicians and a nurse.