Container ship that caught fire, spilled load is en route to Nanaimo

Container ship that caught fire, spilled load is en route to Nanaimo

The MV Zim Kingston, which caught fire and spilled more than 100 containers into the waters off Vancouver Island’s coast, will dock in Nanaimo today, according to a final update from officials.

In late October, 109 containers fell off the Malta-flagged vessel when it encountered rough seas near Bamfield.

Then, as many as 10 damaged shipping containers on board the ship caught fire, including two filled with more than 52,080 kilograms of potassium amylxanthate — a compound that is often used in the mining industry as a mineral processing agent.

Four containers that spilled from the vessel were recovered, while container debris like inflatable toys, boots, garbage and plastic washed up on the rugged coastline of Cape Palmerston on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Those beaches have since been cleaned, and Unified Command reported that around 27,360 kilograms of debris in total has been cleared from beaches to date.

The Nanaimo port authority said the event was rare in our waters, however the incident sparked environmental worries for many and it added to the already strained supply chain.

“Any event can happen again. Doesn’t matter what it is. You know, get struck by lightning twice,” explained Ian Marr, Nanaimo Port Authority president and CEO.

Unified Command also said Friday that there “continues to be no sign of the other 105 containers” which likely sank to the bottom of the ocean.

“The Canadian Coast Guard will continue to work with the ship’s owner to investigate possible next steps and assess the feasibility of trying to locate the 105 missing containers,” it said.

“The ship owner will continue to check the known accumulation sites for debris every few months and remove debris likely to be from the Zim Kingston. The Canadian Coast Guard will also monitor for debris when conducting overflights in the West Coast Vancouver Island area.”

Meanwhile, the ship itself sailed to the Port of Nanaimo today, accompanied by tugboats, marine mammal watch and environmental monitoring vessels, and vessels from both the Canadian and U.S. coast guards.

The Nanaimo Port Authority will oversee offloading of damaged containers once the ship arrives.

“We’ve never had a container vessel this size at our facility,” said Marr.

“Hopefully this makes people look at Nanaimo in a little different light and say,’ this is what we can do,” he continued, adding that he’s hoping to expand the port and increase its capacity to work with large vessels in the future.

The container ship will anchor in port until Dec. 9 when a berth is available at the shipyards at Duke Point in which the remaining 60 containers will be unloaded — a process that will take eight to 12 days to complete — and inspected for damage while the whole incident is investigated.

“Transport safety board will be looking at this incident and there will be a transport safety report that will be forthcoming after the investigation is complete,” said Satinder Singh, the vice-president of marine operations and harbour master for the Nanaimo Port Authority.

Public who spot marine debris they believe could be from the MV Zim Kingston are asked to call it in to the Coast Guard by calling 1-800-889-8852.


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