Firefighters and several crew members boarded the stricken container ship MV Zim Kingston Monday night after a storm had kept crews at bay.
A salvage master and team were due to assess the situation on Tuesday, according to an update from the Canadian Coast Guard. But the team estimates it may take several days to fully suppress smouldering fires inside the containers, at least 10 of which caught fire.
Danaos Shipping Co., the ship’s owner, is cooperating with authorities and has contracted a firefighting company to help fight the fires. According to the coast guard, under Canadian law, ship owners are responsible for their vessels.
A fire aboard the ship, anchored off Victoria, was first reported to the coast guard Saturday morning, after the vessel lost approximately 40 containers on Friday in the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The Kingston had reported damage before it anchored.
The Monday night boarding of the ship came during a break in strong winds that whipped the region most of Sunday and Monday.
Some of the containers aboard the cargo ship contain hazardous materials.
When asked about the chemicals being transported, provincial incident commander Zachery Scher said potassium amyl xanthate is used in mining.
“It is water-soluble, not expected to be persistent in the environment and any aquatic impacts are expected to be acute and near the source of discharge.”
Right now high winds and a large ground swell continue to prevent salvage crews from boarding the ship however there may be a weather window later this evening. pic.twitter.com/Ixg1c91Yv8
— Canadian Coast Guard (@CoastGuardCAN) October 25, 2021
An environmental unit has been set up to monitor any ecological effects and to recommend strategies for preventing and mitigating harm.
“Based on the assessment so far, there aren’t any identified risks to marine species. There aren’t any fisheries closures recommended at this time,” Mariah McCooey, the coast guard’s deputy federal incident commander, said at a briefing Monday.
The Coast Guard noted on Tuesday that air monitoring readings taken Monday during the storm at 32 sites between Esquimalt Lagoon and along Dallas Road were below detection limits.
Gillian Oliver, also with the coast guard, said they’re tracking the drifting containers and Danaos Shipping has contracted a local company equipped to deal with any hazardous material or debris that may come ashore, though that’s not expected.
The salvaging of lost containers was due to begin once weather permits, she said.
The Kingston’s 1,800-page cargo manifest shows a variety of goods and the owner was working with officials to determine which containers were affected.
The initial cause of the fire is still under investigation.
-With files from the Canadian Press