Coast Guard monitoring stray cargo containers off Oregon Inlet, NC

WNCT Photo

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WAVY) – The Coast Guard, NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency are closely tracking 76 stray cargo containers about 17 miles off the Oregon Inlet, Saturday.

Cargo ship, Maersk Shanghai notified watchstanders at Sector North Carolina’s command center that they lost 76 cargo containers overboard and their contents during a heavy roll.

Officials confirmed one of the containers lost at sea was carrying approximately 5,900 pounds of sulfuric acid. There are no indications any containers of sulfuric acid have surfaced or washed up on shore. No other hazardous materials were reported in the containers.

Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City crews, Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft crews and aircraft crews contracted by the shipping company have conducted multiple overflights, locating nine containers on the surface. As of right now, only two of the nine sighted containers remain floating.

The Coast Guard has designated the floating containers as hazards to navigation and the owners of Maersk Shanghai have contracted a salvage company to place tracking devices and lights on the containers. The Coast Guard continues to issue Safety Marine Information Broadcasts to inform boaters of the positions of the known containers.

Maersk also plans to use a side-scan sonar to locate the submerged containers and determine their risk to safe navigation and environment impact. Weather and sea conditions will determine how quickly they are able to effectively survey the area.

Plans developed by Maersk to ensure safe navigation and minimize impact to the environment and marine life will be approved by the Coast Guard, NOAA and EPA prior to execution.