Hazardous chemicals are LEAKING into Baltimore harbor from stricken vessel as NTSB confirms containers ‘were breached’ in the bridge disaster

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • The head of the National Transportation Safety Board said her team determined that hazardous materials were leaking into Baltimore harbor 
  • NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said some of the 56 containers carrying hazardous materials ‘were breached’
  • A preliminary report about the crash, collapse, and subsequent environmental impact will be available in 2-4 weeks, she said 

Hazardous material is leaking into Baltimore harbor following the tragic cargo ship crash that led to the immediate collapse of the Francis Scott Key bridge earlier this week.

On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said her team had identified 56 containers of hazardous material aboard the Singaporean container ship.

A senior hazmat investigator with the agency determined that ‘764 tons of hazardous materials’, which includes corrosives, lithium ion batteries and flammables, now threatens the water surrounding the downed bridge. 

Some of the containers ‘were breached,’ said Homendy, noting that a sheen of hazardous material could be seen on the waterway.

On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said her team had identified 56 containers of hazardous material aboard the Singaporean container ship – some of which are leaking into the harbor 

The exact number of breached containers should be available in a preliminary report, which will be ready in two-to-four weeks. 

‘Our entire focus on scene is to collect the perishable evidence – that’s documenting the scene, it’s taking photographs, it’s taking any sort of electronics or components, whatever goes away once the scene is cleaned up,’ she added, noting that the agency would not be presenting any conclusions or analysis while specialists are still collecting material. 

During Wednesday evening’s press briefing, Homendy described the scene where the bridge once stood as ‘pretty devastating.’

‘Seeing not just what’s going on with the cargo containers, but just looking at what was a bridge span – three bridge spans that is pretty much gone. It’s just utter devastation,’ she said. 

The NTSB has already interviewed the ship’s captain, his mate, the chief engineer, and one other engineer. Tomorrow, the two pilots aboard the ship will be interviewed.

The boat had been piloted by specialized local pilots trained to avoid obstacles at ports. 

These specialist pilots depart the ships as soon as they are in open water. It is thought the vessel lost power after it left port, causing it to veer off course and crash into a column supporting the bridge.

Earlier reporting by DailyMail.com suggests that the full crew of the ship could be stuck aboard the vessel as authorities, including the NTSB scramble to collect perishable evidence and samples.

It is thought the ship, a DALI boat operated by Singaporean company Synergy Group, was being crewed by 22 Indian nationals, none of whom are thought to have been seriously hurt in the incident. 

Part of the bridge collapsed onto the back of the vessel, and the crew will likely not be able to leave the ship until the debris had been cleared.

The speed of the clearance operation is likely to have knock-on ramifications for the rest of the American economy, with Joe Biden stating that 15,000 jobs depended on the port, one of the busiest in the world.

The bridge spans the Patapsco River, at the mouth of Baltimore Harbor.

President Joe Biden has vowed to move ‘heaven and earth’ to get it reopened.

All activity out of the Port of Baltimore, one of the most important trade hubs in North America, has ground to a halt. 

The 50m-wide ship is marooned under the bridge. It is possible the ship's crew won't be able to leave the ship under the bridge debris has been cleared

The 50m-wide ship is marooned under the bridge. It is possible the ship’s crew won’t be able to leave the ship under the bridge debris has been cleared 

'Seeing not just what's going on with the cargo containers, but just looking at what was a bridge span - three bridge spans that is pretty much gone. It's just utter devastation,' said NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy

‘Seeing not just what’s going on with the cargo containers, but just looking at what was a bridge span – three bridge spans that is pretty much gone. It’s just utter devastation,’ said NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy 

Stunning images show the mangled wreckage of the bridge hours after it was struck by the cargo ship very  early on Tuesday morning

Stunning images show the mangled wreckage of the bridge hours after it was struck by the cargo ship very  early on Tuesday morning

The catastrophic collision has sent shockwaves throughout the state of Maryland, with Governor Wes Moore declaring a state of emergency.

Catholic churches throughout Baltimore held masses to pray for families still awaiting news of loved ones on Wednesday evening.

At around 1am on Tuesday morning, the ship departed the Baltimore harbor. It collided with the bridge at around 1.30am.

Officials were quick to rule out the catastrophe as intentional or an act of terrorism, and an early Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) report found the container ship ‘lost propulsion’ as it was leaving port. 

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