VICTORIA — Some 109 containers fell from the MV Zim Kingston on Saturday as the ship was bucked by heavy seas just west of the entrance to Strait of Juan de Fuca, and three have been spotted on a beach at Cape Scott Provincial Park on the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, the Canadian Coast Guard reported Wednesday.
The number of containers afloat in the Pacific originally was reported to be 40, based on visual observation.
The cargo ship en route to Vancouver from South Korea was carrying nearly 2,000 containers, 1,000 of which were on deck, Canadian Coast Guard officials said Wednesday.
As the ship made its way through an area west of Neah Bay known as the Graveyard of the Pacific, it listed and lost some of its cargo.
About 10 of those that remained aboard burned Saturday night. The fire began after the Zim Kingston had anchored at Constance Bank, almost 5 miles from Victoria’s shore and about 17 miles from the U.S.
The first two 40-foot containers to burn were full of a hazardous substance used in mining — xanthates, or potassium amylxanthate — which can cause severe burns.
Two others containing the hazardous substance were among those that fell into the ocean. Potassium amylxanthate is water-soluble, officials said, so any aquatic impacts from the material would be acute near the source of the discharge.
Canadian Coast Guard officials urged anyone who found a container to refrain from opening it since it was not known which of the cargo boxes contained hazards. The boxes with the mining material would have been marked, but the pounding of ocean waves may have obscured the message.
A list of contents from all the containers lost overboard, which was provided by the owner, includes industrial and car parts, Christmas decorations, sofas, poker tables, clothing, toys, yoga mats, stand up paddleboards and other everyday items.
With the complete manifest from the ship’s owner, the Incident Command Post’s Environmental Unit in Canada will assess the contents of the overboard containers for potential impacts. Officials say they expect some of the containers have sunk.
Salvage teams aboard the Zim Kingston found some fire flare-ups, which were not allowed to spread, officials said, adding it may be several days before fires inside individual containers on the Greece-based ship can be extinguished.
As of Wednesday, 106 readings of the air quality in shoreline areas had been taken, officials said, with no contaminants detected in amounts of concern.
The owner, Danaos Shipping Co., is responsible for cleanup costs. It has said it is cooperating with Canadian officials.
Along with the three containers seen at Cape Scott was some debris, officials said. Flyovers continued Wednesday and may result in more information.
Anyone who finds a container is asked to call 1-800-889-8852.
Executive Editor Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3530 or at [email protected].