The ship that crashed into the Baltimore bridge carried 764 tons of hazardous material, and some containers have been breached, NTSB says

The ship that crashed into the Baltimore bridge carried 764 tons of hazardous material, and some containers have been breached, NTSB says
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Officials are ascertaining how best to deal with the removal of the debris blocking the Patapsco River.
Officials are ascertaining how best to deal with the removal of the debris blocking the Patapsco River.

  • At least 56 containers of hazmat goods were on board the Dali when it crashed, the NTSB said.
  • Some of the containers were “significantly breached” and some are in the water, officials said.
  • The 984-foot ship is still caught under the debris of Baltimore’s biggest bridge, which collapsed on Tuesday.

The 984-foot container vessel that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge was carrying at least 56 containers of hazardous material, some of which have fallen into the water, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The board’s chair, Jennifer Homendy, told reporters on Wednesday that officials boarded the Singapore-flagged Dali for an inspection on Tuesday evening.

A senior NTSB hazmat investigator identified the 56 hazardous containers while observing the cargo and manifest, Homendy said.

“That’s 764 tons of hazardous materials. Mostly corrosives, flammables, and some miscellaneous hazardous materials,” said the board chief.

Some containers held “class 9” materials, which may include lithium-ion batteries, she said.

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Homendy added that she saw that some hazardous material containers were “breached significantly” and several had fallen into the Patapsco River, but did not have “an exact number.”

Officials have also “seen sheen on the waterway,” she added.

NTSB officials said the exact kinds of hazardous materials on the Dali have yet to be identified, and could not speak to the risks posed to the public.

When asked whether people should be concerned about the “sheen” on the river, Homendy said the transportation safety agency had referred the information to other federal and state authorities.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent outside regular business hours by Business Insider.

BI also contacted two organizations researching water quality in the area, the Chesapeake Research Consortium and Blue Water Baltimore.

“It’s a massive undertaking for an investigation,” Homendy said, adding that the total probe into the ship’s malfunctions could take 12 to 24 months.

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The Dali lost power on Tuesday morning and crashed into Baltimore’s Key Bridge, causing its span to collapse. Six construction workers who were on the bridge have died or are presumed dead, with four bodies still unrecovered.

The vessel has a gross tonnage of 95,000 tons, meaning the containers carrying hazardous materials would have taken up a small fraction of its total carrying capacity.

While the Key Bridge’s collapse has not been declared a chemical-related emergency as of Wednesday evening, hazardous materials will likely complicate the city’s clean-up process.

“It’s a pretty dangerous situation in that area, and we can’t go in there,” Homendy said.

A recent major disaster, when a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohi,o in February 2023, still affects residents more than a year after the event.

Delays in freeing up the Patapsco River also threaten major economic consequences. The Port of Baltimore — the ninth busiest US port for international cargo and a major hub for the automotive industry — is closed to vessels until further notice as wreckage blocks the waterway.

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The loss of the bridge itself is likely to become a pain point for Baltimore commuters since 11.3 million vehicles plied the Key Bridge annually. It was also the only land transport route for hazardous materials, posing another complication for local industries.

Authorities are still investigating how the Dali lost power as it tried to navigate under the Key Bridge.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said on Wednesday that the ship had passed two foreign port inspections, one in June and another in September.

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