VICTORIA — The Canadian Coast Guard says it believes that many, if not all, of the 105 missing containers that fell into the sea from a cargo ship off Victoria in late October have sunk.
The containers were tossed from the MV Zim Kingston during a storm near the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait around the same time a fire broke out on the vessel.
The coast guard said in a statement Thursday that four containers carrying fridges and running shoes washed ashore on northern Vancouver Island but there was no sign of the others.
The agency said it is working with the ship's owner to determine the next steps and the feasibility of trying to locate the 105 missing containers.
Danaos Shipping, which manages the Zim Kingston, said a list of what was in the containers was not yet available to them.
The coast guard said previously that the containers held Christmas decorations, sofas, appliances, clothing, car parts, toys and other everyday items. There were also two bins that went overboard containing chemicals used in mining.
Information provided to the unified command indicates the chemicals were soluble in water and biodegradable, it said in the statement on Thursday.
"They are not bioaccumulating agents, meaning that if there was human contact, the chemicals do not accumulate in the body faster than they are excreted and there is a very low risk of poisoning or toxicity," the statement said.
"From the perspective of risk of harm to humans from fish, shellfish consumption, there has been no need to close fisheries."
The coast guard said weather, high tides and storm swells have been significant factors affecting crews attempting to clean up the beaches where four of the containers landed.
The coast guard said 307 garbage bags of material, 69 bulk bags of debris, 44 fridges, three bulk bags of scrap metal and a cubic metre of scrap metal was recovered last weekend from what remained of the containers that washed ashore.
"The number of containers found beached remains at four and cleanup efforts are ongoing at these areas of northern Vancouver Island where debris has been identified. Unified Command expects a complete beach cleanup at these sites," the coast guard said in the statement.
A container that floated ashore on northwestern Vancouver Island has been taken apart by cleanup crews, it added.
The coast guard asked the public to report any containers that may float to the surface.
The Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the fire that broke out on the freighter.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2021.
The Canadian Press