Island non-profits says don’t leave Zim Kingston beach clean up to us


An Island non-profit wants to see a plan in place to clean up the debris that is washing ashore from the MV Zim Kingston shipping containers.

In October last year, 109 containers fell off the container ship Zim Kingston near the entrance of Juan de Fuca Strait. Then a fire broke out on the ship 12 hours later just off Victoria.

It was predicted that ocean currents would take the containers northward and they did with four later found near Cape Palmerston on northwest Vancouver Island.

Contractors, local First Nations and non-profit organizations such as Epic Exeo based in Port McNeill were brought in to clean the beaches of the initial contents including full-size refrigerators that were found strewn on the sandy beaches.

However, according to Ashley Tapp, co-founder of Epic Exeo, that’s where it ended.

“They went and they completed their task but that doesn’t mean this is finished,” said Tapp. “There is no plan in place for when something like this happens and there should be because this is going to go on for who knows how long.”

The last time Tapp went to check the beaches on Dec. 14 she found new debris.

“I came across three brand new Paw Patrol kid’s bike helmets,” Tapp says. “That’s not your normal marine debris to find in those locations.”

The fear is that with 105 of the initial 109 shipping containers from the Zim Kingston remaining unaccounted for, a lot more debris could be headed to west coast beaches.

According to the Canadian Coast Guard, the containers were packed with “everyday items including Christmas decorations, clothing, toys, gym mats, boots, shoes, and refrigerator parts.”

The Coast Guard says the polluter is required to pay for any cleanup activities to the satisfaction of the Government of Canada.

As of early December, about 47,650 kilograms of debris had been removed from northern Island beaches and the Coast Guard said by mid-December, affected beaches in the area were considered to be clean.

However, Ashley Tapp says due to continuous storms since November she has been unable to visit the beaches to see for herself and says her find on Dec. 14 convinces her otherwise.

“I am beginning to believe and think there are shipping containers close to the shore that are open,” Tapp said. “Every new tide could be bringing in new debris.”

She’s calling on the federal government to create a plan that will fund a regular search of the shorelines.

“And we don’t feel that it’s fair to put it on our non-profit organizations to have to clean that up. We’re going to do it but we’re going to need some help,” she said.

As a non-profit, it has to raise its own money and has been turned down for government grants in the past.

They’ll be heading out again in February to see what’s washed ashore over the last two months.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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