This is a story that just keeps getting worse. Now it turns out that one of the 76 (yes, 76) containers that tumbled off the Maersk Shanghai while it was off the coast of North Carolina last week was carrying 5,900 pounds of sulfuric acid. The Coast Guard, NOAA and the EPA are trying to track the containers, which the Coast Guard has labeled “hazards to navigation.”
The crew of the Shanghai called the Coast Guard after the containers fell off the ship in a heavy roll during nor’easter 17 miles off Oregon Inlet in the Outer Banks, saying they thought 70 or 73 containers were involved. Coast Guard air crews from Elizabeth City, Coast Guard auxiliary crews and crews contracted by Maersk conducted multiple overflights of the area, looking for the containers. They did find nine on the surface, but now only two of them are still floating.
For its part, Maersk has contracted a salvage company to place tracing devices on any containers it can find. Maersk also plans to use side-scan sonar to look for submerged containers.
The Coast Guard asks mariners who see any containers to contact them on VHF Channel 16 or at 910 362-4015.
The Shanghai is a 1,063-feet-long, 10,081-ton ship built in 2016 and flagged in Liberia.