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Ship's missing containers believed to be off north Island in Cape Scott area

Firefighting efforts continue on board the ship, which is at anchor near Constance Bank
The cargo ship Zim Kingston, anchored near Constance Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, lost containers when it listed in bad weather in international waters off the west coast of the Island on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Containers that fell from the bulk carrier Zim Kingston could be in the Cape Scott area at the north end of Vancouver Island, the coast guard says.

Gillian Oliver, the coast guard’s advanced-planning unit leader, said the area was scoured from the air Monday and Tuesday for any signs of the 40 metal containers that went overboard when the vessel listed in bad weather on Friday morning in international waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island. While off Victoria on Saturday, a fire broke out on the ship. That fire, which involved several containers, is now deemed to be under control.

Oliver said the coast guard is deploying more tracking buoys and continues to work with the vessel’s owner, Greece-based Danaos Shipping, to locate and recover the containers, which have likely travelled north. “Based on the information we last have on the co-ordinates of those containers and on the Environment Canada trajectory modelling, we believe that the containers are somewhere around the Cape Scott area in north Vancouver Island.”

The public is asked to report any containers that come ashore by calling 1-800-889-8852. Some of the containers may contain hazardous materials. Oliver has said the coast guard is working with the vessel’s operators to determine what is in the containers that fell into the sea, and the burned containers on the ship.

Firefighting efforts continue on board the ship, which is at anchor 4.7 nautical miles from the Victoria shoreline near Constance Bank.

Salvage and firefighting groups have identified five containers on the ship believed to contain tires that have internal fires, said Paul Barrett, planning section chief for the unified command team dealing with the situation for the coast guard.

Six firefighting salvage experts from Resolve Marine boarded Zim Kingston on Monday night. The ship has been anchored in its current spot since Saturday morning, but strong winds and large ocean swells had prevented previous boarding.

It is still not known what caused the fire.

Barrett said the ship’s anchors are holding and the vessel has not drifted from its anchorage.

Boundary cooling by other vessels — which involves lightly spraying water at the Zim Kingston’s hull and containers — is continuing, he said, adding the vessel isn’t expected to be ready for further salvage for another two to three days.

He said 20 personnel are on the ship, including crew, surveyors and firefighters.

Federal incident commander J.J. Brickett said he hopes the vessel, which has continued to be fully operational throughout the incident, will be in a position to depart this weekend.

The coast guard said an environmental unit has been established, made up of federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations representatives.

Dave Pridham, deputy provincial incident commander, said air quality is being monitored along the shoreline and on board Zim Kingston, and monitoring crews have not recorded any contaminants of concern at levels that are a risk to public health.

Surfrider Foundation Vancouver Island, an environmental group, said on Facebook it is monitoring the situation and urged people who find any debris on shore to treat it as toxic and not to handle it.

“Materials from this fire are considered hazardous and should not be collected by the general public,” Surfrider said. It said items like charred debris should be reported to the coast guard.