Majority of shipping containers that fell from MV Zim Kingston are still missing – Saanich News

It has been three months since 109 shipping containers were knocked from a cargo ship navigating rough seas off the west coast of Vancouver Island, but the location of all but four is unknown.

Ashley Tapp, co-founder of Epic Exeo, said her initial optimism that the ship’s owner would be held accountable for the missing containers has gradually faded.

“I’m starting to get pretty discouraged,” she said.

Epic Exeo is a Port McNeill-based nonprofit focused on beach cleanups along the North Shore, where four of the containers were located as of October 29.

Though she specialized in the area, Tapp said it was at least a week before she was asked to coordinate volunteer cleanup operations in the Cape Scott area south of Palmerston Beach and Raft Cove.

Contractors hired by the shipowner to organize beach clean-ups were not local and unfamiliar with the area’s geography, said Alys Hoyland, Surfrider Pacific Rim’s beach clean-up coordinator.

“It took more than a week for any cleanup to begin,” she said. “And the longer it took for the cleanup to begin, the worse it got.”

Currently, the delegation of powers falls to the bosom of the shipping company, which has no local ties to the region, said Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns.

Johns said he tried to reach Fisheries Secretary Joyce Murray to help “provide guidance and links to coastal communities and resources to help with the cleanup,” but she never responded.

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) President Judith Sayers expressed similar concern about the lack of communication with the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth nations along the coast who could be affected by the spill in the years to come.

“The ongoing incident involving the container ship Zim Kingston has brought to light numerous deficiencies in the overall sea rescue capacity on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Sayers wrote in mid-November in a letter to Transport Minister Omar Alghabra after the incident occurred on Oct. 22.

At least two of the 105 missing 40-foot containers contain hazardous chemicals. Other content includes Christmas decorations, metal car parts, clothing, toys and industrial parts.

In early December, Hoyland said gray rubber mats related to the spilled cargo had washed up near Tofino in Florencia Bay and the Port of Hesquiaht. She has not received any further reports of container wreckage in Clayoquot or Barkley Sound but said: “There is quite a bit of reporting in Haida Gwaii.”

According to Ray Williams of the to Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, large pieces of Styrofoam began populating the beaches around Yuquot in December. The problem persists, said Williams, who is worried about the fish as the material breaks down into small pellets.

Nicole Gervais also reported that in early December, chunks of Styrofoam washed ashore on the north end of Long Beach near the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community of Esowista.

Unlike the Styrofoam used to dock floats, Gervais’ daughter Gisele Martin said the pieces that fouled the tide line up to Schooner Cove had etched edges.

It’s packing material, she suggested.

But without a way to track the styrofoam, there’s no way of knowing where it came from.

In response to Gervais’ report, Surfrider Pacific Rim organized a beach cleanup along the Esowista Peninsula and Combers Beach, during which Hoyland said they removed a metal barrel, a large plastic buoy, a tire, part of a boat and also plastic fragments as Single-use items such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and plastic wrap.

Beach cleaning organizations have not received the full manifest identifying the contents of the containers that went overboard. Without them, Hoyland said, it was “incredibly difficult” to prove the extent of the spread or hold the shipowner accountable.

The Coast Guard said it was “not free” to share the manifesto because it does not have the document, but said the Zim Kingston’s wreckage was “distinguishable from normal marine debris.”

“Typical marine litter tends to be plastic water bottles, fishing rope and nets, microplastics and hard plastic floats,” the Coast Guard said. “Debris from the Zim Kingston remains the same type of material originally seen in November and December, including Christmas decorations, clothing, toys, gym mats, boots and shoes, refrigerator parts and other everyday items.”

It is required by law that the polluter pays for any clean-up work to “the satisfaction of the Canadian government,” the Coast Guard said.

By early December, the Coast Guard said approximately 100,000 pounds (47,650 kilograms) of debris had been removed from beaches along Vancouver Island’s north shore.

By mid-December, the Coast Guard said the beaches where debris was reported were “presumed to be clean.”

Tapp returned to Cape Palmerston and Grant Bay on December 14 and found a pink inflatable unicorn, baby oil containers, cologne bottles, Paw Patrol bike helmets with zip ties still attached, and styrofoam and bubble wrap intact in the southern area of ​​Cape Scott.

“The government’s definition of clean is completely different than ours,” she said. “You can’t just go and clean a beach and then wipe your hands. .125Debris.375 keeps coming back.”

Tapp said she reported her findings to the Coast Guard, but “nothing came of it.”

Instead, she was asked to file future reports through her 1-800 number.

The recent heavy snowfall has since made it impossible for Tapp to return to the area, but she is preparing to return to Cape Palmerston on February 12.

No one has contacted Tapp since she was originally contacted in early November.

“We’re already through mid-January … and no one has given me any plan as to what they’re going to do to move forward,” she said. “I haven’t had anyone reach out and ask if I was back out there.”

Every few months, the Coast Guard says, the ship’s owner will check known accumulation sites for debris “likely from the Zim Kingston.”

“The Canadian Coast Guard will also monitor for debris during overflights in the Vancouver Island west coast area and any reported debris believed to be from the Zim Kingston will be followed up,” the Coast Guard added.

Noting that debris has been left on the beaches after they were declared “clean,” Tapp said, “I’d really like to know what your definition of ‘beach patrol’ actually is.”

The Coast Guard said it is continuing to work with the shipowner to create a plan to conduct a sonar scan of the area where the containers fell overboard, as well as an assessment of the risk the lost containers pose to the environment could.

“The shipowner has hired a contractor to perform the scan, but they will have to wait for a suitable weather window to complete the work,” the Coast Guard said.

Tapp said the weather is unlikely to change for the next few months.

“Until then, I’m worried that if they find shipping containers that are close to shore, they will leave,” she said.

Looking ahead, Tapp said she anticipates the debris would likely be the responsibility of coastal communities where it would wash ashore.

“It will contribute to our regular beach cleanup at this time,” she said. “It’s not what I want, but I can’t just let it be and we have to move on.”

About Christine Geisler

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