Container ship releases toxic gases off Victoria, Canada

The Canadian Coast Guard planned, Sunday evening, October 24, to send firefighters aboard the Cypriot container ship whose fire, which since Saturday has generated toxic gas off the Canadian-American Pacific coast, has resulted in the evacuation of the majority of the crew.

“The fire on the Zim Kingston has been stabilized “, tweeted the Canadian Coast Guard at the end of the day, after having mobilized several ships all weekend to contain the fire, which took in the front of the freighter.

“Depending on the weather conditions of tomorrow [lundi], firefighters specializing in hazardous materials will board the ship to fight any persistent fires and ensure they are extinguished ”, continued the Coast Guard, while a strong storm is announced Monday on the North American west coast, from San Francisco to Vancouver.

The shipowner, the Cypriot company Danaos, told Agence France-Presse that they were sending claims adjusters on board. “To ensure that the conditions are met to allow the return” of the 16 crew members who left on Saturday. Five sailors, including the captain, remained on the container ship.

“Emergency towing vessels as well as other tugs will help us monitor developments overnight to ensure the vessel’s five crew members are safe.” and that the ship remains secure, the coast guard said Sunday evening.

“Strong gales forecast”

Although a priori the situation does not present any risks on land, such as an oil spill or a toxic tide, “Strong gales are expected in the region” Sunday evening and “The teams will monitor the air quality both on the water and from the shore”, said the authorities in the face of concerns raised by the chemical smoke released by the blaze.

Canadian meteorological services have warned that“A rather intense autumnal storm” was going to hit the Canadian coast on Sunday evening with winds of 70 to 90 km / h expected in the region of Victoria (British Columbia), off which the container ship is anchored.

Precisely, the Cypriot ship is in the Strait of Juan de Fuca which marks the maritime border between Canada and the United States, explained its owner. “While waiting to be able to access the port of Vancouver, when an extreme weather event caused the vessel to list heavily, which resulted in containers falling overboard”, summed up the Cypriot shipowner. It was as a result of this incident that two damaged containers caught fire on Saturday, Danaos said, while the Canadian coast guard said Sunday morning that“A fire broke out in 10 containers”.

The decision to evacuate was then taken by the captain of the ship and 16 people were evacuated, according to the coast guard. The captain of the container ship “And key personnel remained on board to supervise the fight against the fire”, had specified Danaos.

“Due to the nature of the chemicals on board the container ship, applying water directly to the fire is not an option”, noted the Canadian Coast Guard on Twitter. A tug deployed at the site of the fire, the Seaspan Raven, however “Cooled the hull of the Zim Kingston by sprinkling it with cold water “ on the night of Saturday to Sunday, added the Canadian authorities.

According to public television Radio Canada, 40 containers would be lost in the Pacific Ocean and the Canadian Coast Guard and their American counterparts were working together to find them. The container ship carries more than 52 tonnes of chemicals, according to Radio-Canada.

Le Monde with AFP and Reuters

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Container ship releases toxic gases off Victoria, Canada