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Ship that lost containers moves to Nanaimo, B.C.: coast guard

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NANAIMO, B.C. — A cargo ship that lost more than 100 containers into the Pacific Ocean after a fire on board has been cleared to travel to the Port of Nanaimo in British Columbia.

Officials say the MV Zim Kingston was scheduled to leave Constance Bay near Victoria on Friday on a trip that was expected to take about 11 hours.

They say damaged containers on the ship will be unloaded by the Nanaimo Port Authority as part of its normal operations.  

A statement from the unified command of agencies involved in the cleanup operation says precautions have been taken for the voyage including only allowing the ship to travel under certain weather conditions.

It says a salvage team has also been hired by the ship's owner to be present during the trip to monitor the stability of containers on board and provide firefighting resources.

The ship was being accompanied by two tugboats, a Canadian Coast Guard lifeboat, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel in American waters, a marine mammal watch vessel and another that was doing environmental monitoring.

Containers were tossed from the vessel during a storm about six weeks ago near the entrance to the Juan de Fuca Strait around the same time a fire broke out on the ship.

The unified command says cleanup crews haven't found any more containers from the ship. That means four were found and there is no sign of the other 105 containers, which are believed to have sunk.

"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," the statement says.

It says the beaches in northern Vancouver Island where debris was found are "now considered to be clean." Jurassic Point on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island is still being cleared, the statement says.

More than 27 tonnes of debris has been removed from beaches so far, which does not include five waste bins that are still being used or debris at Jurassic Point.

"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 statement says. "The Canadian Coast Guard will also monitor for debris when conducting overflights in the West Coast Vancouver Island area."

The coast guard has said that the containers held Christmas decorations, sofas, appliances, clothing, car parts, toys and other everyday items. There were also two bins containing chemicals used in mining, which were soluble in water and biodegradable, it has said previously.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

The Canadian Press