Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles, which are metals and compounds that burn quickly and are hard to extinguish by water.
Dozens of shipping containers, at least two of them containing hazardous materials, were dumped into Canadian waters early Friday morning when a ship en route to Vancouver lost some of its load.
The vessel Zim Kingston encountered rough seas west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca at 12:49 a.m. and listed to one side, causing 40 containers to go overboard.
After a report to Canada’s and U.S. Coast Guard, crews from both agencies have been working to locate the containers. At 10 a.m., a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter located 35 of the containers 60 kilometres off Vancouver Island, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Diolanda Caballero.
“Two of the containers have been identified as carrying spontaneous combustibles,” said Caballeros, in this case, flammable metals and compounds that burn quickly and are hard to extinguish by water.
“They are currently drifting north but we can’t predict which way they will go because of the heavy weather. The bomb cyclone (storm) is around that area,” she said.
Five of Zim Kingston’s containers are still unaccounted for.
“We’re hoping for the best results, that it doesn’t affect mariners’ travel at all,” Caballeros said.
A U.S. Coast Guard broadcast to mariners urged them to exercise “extreme caution” in the area of the containers as they “may be partially submerged and not visible.”
Spokesperson Michelle Imbeau said a navigational warning was issued by the Canadian Coast Guard, informing vessels of the whereabouts of the floating containers as they drift.
Assessments from the agency will be conducted to determine if “pollution threats and hazards” will come as a result of the container spill.
As of Friday afternoon, Zim Kingston was anchored near Victoria. The vessel was bound for the Port of Vancouver from Busan, South Korea.
Source : vancouversun