Kwakiutl chief fears cargo containers will have a lasting environmental impact on BC coast

A hereditary chief from the Kwakiutl First Nation on northern Vancouver Island is concerned about the long-term environmental impact of dozens of cargo containers lost at sea in the area.

More than 100 containers were released from the MV Zim Kinston near the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca in rough seas last Thursday.

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Four of those containers have since washed up on shore, some of them scattering their contents on the beaches near Cape Scott. But 105 others, including two filled with toxic chemicals, are still missing.

“All this pollution that has just hit our shores, it won’t take long for it to break down into small pieces, especially the styrofoam and plastics,” Hereditary Chief David Mungo Knox said.

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“It is will have the greatest impact in the future, talking about the welfare and health of the clam beds and / or salmon, ”he added, noting that the community was in the middle of the harvest season. clams.


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MV Zim Kingston containers run aground off northern Vancouver Island


MV Zim Kingston containers run aground off northern Vancouver Island

Knox said he was particularly concerned about the two remaining hazardous material containers and their potential impact on the environment if they opened.

Danaos Shipping Co., which operates the Zim Kingston, has hired two companies to handle the shoreline and shoreline salvage, and the Canadian Coast Guard has urged people to stay away from containers for safety reasons.

Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Canadian Chamber of Shipping, said that due to the number of lost containers and the size of the BC coast, cleaning up will not be easy.

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“It won’t be a quick process, it’s going to be complex. A lot of the containers that have stranded so far are in remote locations, so it’s going to take a lot of planning, ”he said.

“These are large, heavy pieces of steel which can be dangerous, especially if they have been damaged, so it is important that people do not touch them,” he added.

Global News visited Palmerston Beach, just south of Cape Scot Provincial Park on Friday, where refrigerators, children’s toys, sportswear, and plastic and Styrofoam packaging all failed.


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Ship wreckage washed up on Vancouver Island


Ship wreckage washed up on Vancouver Island

No contractor or government agency was observed on site on Friday.

Knox said coastguard officials stepped up after the crash but needed to move faster.

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“I really have to say thank you Coast Guard for being here because it’s so important and they’re on top of that, we’re working together – it’s a bit slow… but things are still moving”, a- he declared. noted.

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“But I would like it to happen sooner rather than later, because time is running out right now as our next storm is on Monday.”

Residents of the North Island, he said, had already started moving debris above the high water mark on some beaches in anticipation of a coming tide.

Knox said that once the urgent issue of lost containers is resolved, he wants the focus to be on container ship safety, especially in stormy weather.

“I mean, is there a proposed terms of reference to talk about what’s in the containers?” Or they should have a tracking device on it, especially toxic substances should always be tagged with a GPS, ”he said.

“Why aren’t they secure in big storms, or are they really secure? Who neglects maintenance? There are so many variables.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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