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Refrigerators, garbage bags of styrofoam collected after shipping containers wash ashore

Officials are focusing on removing styrofoam first, before it breaks down and becomes more difficult to collect
About 109 shipping containers fell into the sea from a ship off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. Some of the containers have been found, but others are unaccounted for. UNITED STATES COAST GUARD

Thirty-five garbage bags of debris and three helicopter bags of styrofoam were collected Friday from the beach at Cape Palmerston on northern Vancouver Island after 109 containers fell off a ship last week.

Forty refrigerators were also gathered and moved to the high-tide line with the styrofoam, where they await removal, said Michelle Imbeau, communications adviser for the Canadian Coast Guard.

While the debris washing ashore is wide-ranging, from colourful toys and games to yoga mats and rubber boots, officials are focusing on removing styrofoam first, before it breaks down and becomes more difficult to collect, Imbeau said.

It’s unclear how long the cleanup will take, she said. “It depends what the tide brings in, really.”

The Zim Kingston container ship is at anchor near Constance Bank after losing 109 of the 2,000 shipping containers it was transporting to Vancouver from South Korea last week. Several containers on board also caught fire.

A contractor hired by Greece-based Danaos Shipping Co., which manages the Zim Kingston, is co-ordinating the cleanup efforts through the incident command post. They are not seeking volunteers to help with the cleanup at this point, Imbeau said.

Officials continue to monitor the ship for any hot spots after a fire that smouldered for a week.

Four of the lost shipping containers have been located at the northern tip of the Island. All have made landfall, and one has opened. Officials are trying to locate the remaining missing containers.

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