A congressional committee hopes Ottawa will limit environmental damage and close gaps in its response to ocean cargo spills after a container ship lost more than 100 sea cans and was bogged down by persistent fires off the BC coast last year. want to fill
The MV Zim Kingston, owned by Greece-based Danaos Shipping Company Limited, burned for a week after containers containing flammable chemicals caught fire as a result of stormy weather. But first, on October 21, on the south coast of Vancouver Island, a chunk of her two containers carrying dangerous goods were washed overboard.
Debris from the containers, most of which has never been recovered, is still washing up on the shores of the West Coast, and a report last month suggested it reached as far north as Alaska.
The federal government, states, and coastal communities are not operationally prepared to manage seaborne cargo spills, especially those containing or containing hazardous substances, the Standing Commission on Fisheries and Marines said in an incident. It was decided after the investigation of
There is little ability to locate and recover lost containers, contain long-term environmental impacts, and lacks marine towing and fire-fighting capabilities, the commission found.
In coastal areas, plastic pollution, marine debris and even a collection of refrigerators were seen on pristine beaches in northwest Vancouver Island after the spill, said Lisa Marie Baron, fisheries and ocean critic for the Federal NDP, Canada’s National Observer. told to
Only four shipping containers were found on the shore, and the rest are presumably scattered on the ocean floor.
Barron has asked the Standing Committee to look into the matter and said it was shocking that there had been no long efforts to find or recover most of the missing containers.
“If one of these containers had gold bars in it, we would find a way to get it out of the ocean,” said Nanaimo Ladysmith’s MP.
“Instead, they are just left there … and they inevitably open up, washing up on our shores for years to come.”
The commission’s investigation, which began in January, provided 29 recommendations to the federal government to improve its response to ocean cargo spills.
The fishery was not closed as a result of the cargo loss, but two shipments containing a total of 42,000 kilograms of dangerous chemicals (potassium amyl xanthate and thiourea dioxide, used in the mining and textile sectors respectively), according to reports. A container was lost at sea.
According to the Environment and Climate Change Agency of Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the chemical was expected to be diluted and widely distributed in the ocean, so the risk to the environment was limited.
But given that there is no way to track containers, it is difficult to monitor or mitigate potential environmental problems that can arise from lost containers, says Surfrider Foundation Canada’s Pacific Rim. Alice Hoyland, Regional Youth Coordinator, said.
Also, plastics, especially Styrofoam, which is commonly used in molded foams to protect goods or to pack peanuts, can decompose, persist for decades, if not centuries, and be washed away by seas and coasts. The committee heard that it is widely distributed in
Environmental emergency planner and analyst Stafford Reid told the commission that polystyrene and nurdles from marine debris are much more insidious than oil and have long-term consequences.
Barron said concerns about polystyrene foam have been raised repeatedly, prompting the commission to urge Canada to ban the product’s use in ocean shipping packaging and better monitor the impact of certain plastics on the marine environment. and to lead an international effort to investigate.
Liberal lawmaker Ken Hardy, a member of the committee, said shipping containers should also be equipped with tracking devices so they can be easily found if lost.
“At least we can find out where they are and possibly decide if they can be rescued or if it’s okay to leave them alone,” Hardy said.
There were also gaps in response and communication in the ZIM Kingston case, Hardy said.
More proactive infrastructure needs to be put in place, including pre-approved salvage and cleanup operators from British Columbia, First Nations and coastal communities with local expertise and local knowledge he added.
Canada is not prepared for a coordinated spill response in terms of toxic substances other than oil, especially in terms of towing and firefighting and rescue capabilities and adequate onshore facilities, experts told the commission.
There is also a need for greater transparency about what was washed overboard and the financial liability of shipping companies involved in cargo spills, Barron said.
The Commission noted that coastal and indigenous communities and cleanup groups, who were on the front lines of the spill and were the first to initiate debris removal, were not integrated into the spill response and specifically understood what was being washed away. I heard not. on their shores.
The inability to obtain specific cargo manifests also makes it difficult to ensure that polluters continue to pay when marine debris is washed ashore years after the accident, Barron noted.
Shipping companies are also only responsible for decontamination up to six years after the incident and have limited financial liability, the commission heard.
As a result, the federal government should consider other mechanisms to make funds available for immediate and long-term environmental damage from cargo spills, the committee recommends. doing.
Barron said extreme weather events have been accompanied by increased traffic and it is imperative that the federal government develop clear plans to prevent cargo spills.
According to the World Shipping Council, overboard freight containers surged in 2020/21, with an average of more than 3,000 containers lost annually due to adverse weather conditions.
“Coastal communities are the communities that bear the brunt of the debris that continues to wash away,” Barron said.
“And if we just leave the containers at sea, we need to have a longer-term cleanup plan.”