A cargo ship with chemicals caught fire off the coast of Canada

    26 Oct 2021

    A cargo ship with chemicals caught fire off the coast of Canada. The situation became an environmental disaster. The ship itself is not on fire.

    The ship was carrying chemicals for the mining industry off the coast of British Columbia.

    Sixteen crew members were evacuated from the MV Zim Kingston, and five more remained on board to fight the fire, Reuters reports.

    Ten containers are burning, and the fire continues to spread.

    Forty containers fell overboard and posed a significant threat to other ships.

    With a strong storm off the coast of British Columbia, environmental groups fear it could be another environmental disaster.

    The fire on the ship anchored 5 miles off British Columbia started on October 23, and now a search is on for 40 shipping containers that fell overboard, Firehouse states.

    No injuries were reported, and 16 crew members were taken off the Zim Kingston, Canadian Coast Guard officials said in a news conference on October 24.

    Firefighting tugs were posted around the vessel and contained the fire to prevent it from spreading to the rest of the cargo ship, said JJ Brickett, federal incident commander for the Canadian Coast Guard.

    “We can’t see any scorching or charing of those adjacent containers. That’s a really good sign,” Brickett said.

    The fire was caused by a combustible chemical powder, potassium amyl xanthate, that’s widely used in the mining industry, officials said. The chemical spilled from containers damaged in a storm on October 22 as the Zim Kingston approached the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

    Out of the 40 containers that fell into the Pacific Ocean, two contained chemical powder. The others remained on deck and started the fire.

    Officials were working on October 24 to find the containers that fell into the ocean. It’s unclear what the environmental impacts will be. Canadian Coast Guard officials are working with the Ministry of Environment and First Nations of Vancouver Island to assess the effects.



    Everything in the containers that caught fire has burned, Brickett said. The Canadian Coast Guard reported that about ten containers on the cargo ship caught fire, but he said it’s difficult to know an exact number.

    The crew members on the ship and officials on the shore were monitoring the ship through Sunday afternoon’s storm. It’s “unlikely” the vessel will move, but if the anchor does move, there are numerous salvage tugs around so the tow can be quick, Brickett said.

    Resolve Marine, emergency response, and salvage company has been hired by Danaos Shipping Co., the owner of the Zim Kingston, to continue fighting the fire and salvage missing cargo off the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Brickett said. Under Canadian law, the owner of the vessel is responsible for response and salvage costs.

    Brickett said Danaos has been responsive and has been following typical protocol, like hiring the salvage company.

    “Danaos has been working in close cooperation with the local port authorities from the very first, committed to following all actions necessary to mitigate the consequences of the incident,” according to a statement on the company’s website.

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