Hazardous Materials Add To Baltimore Bridge Disaster Problems

Officials assessing the damage from the catastrophic collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on Tuesday are now worried about the condition of hazardous materials on board the stranded container ship that caused the collapse.

The container ship Dali had just departed the Port of Baltimore early on Tuesday laden with hundreds of shipping containers when it suddenly lost propulsion and power and collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge according to reports by CNN. The collision collapsed the bridge, killed at least six construction workers on the bridge, and smashed dozens of shipping containers on the vessel’s deck.

Unlike many recent transportation disasters, the collision and bridge collapse were captured live on video which has been widely shared around the world via social media.

Blaze Media reports that National Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Jennifer Homendy said that 56 containers of hazardous materials on the Dali have been identified, representing 764 tons of hazardous materials. Homendy said the materials in question are mostly corrosives and flammables as well as Class Nine hazardous materials which would include lithium-ion batteries.

Homendy added that some of the hazmat containers were breached in the collision and that inspection crews have reported a chemical sheen in the harbor around the site.

The hazardous materials add another set of problems to an already chaotic situation. As of Wednesday night, the remains of only two of the six missing workers had been located and recovered.

An FBI search and rescue diver involved in the operation was interviewed by NBC Nightly News Wednesday evening and he reported zero visibility conditions in the cold, murky waters, with jagged steel girders and masses of concrete scattered everywhere. Divers are searching only by touch and with sonar, which is hampering progress.

The Key Bridge was the last major highway bridge over the Patapsco River and served as the southern loop of Interstate 564 around Baltimore according to CNN. The collapse has created a bottleneck that has effectively shut down all maritime traffic at the nation’s ninth-largest port.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced on Tuesday that they were temporarily shifting operations south to Norfolk, Virginia since the Baltimore cruise terminal is now sealed off by the collapse.