NTSB chair: Hazmat containers breached during bridge collapse 

Infrastructure Bridge 032724 AP Steve Helber

The cargo ship that crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore was carrying dozens of hazardous material containers, some of which were breached during the collapse, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced Wednesday. 

NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy on Wednesday said the agency was able to obtain the cargo manifest of the ship, named Dali, which was on its way to Sri Lanka when it smashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore overnight Tuesday. 

She said one of the NTSB senior hazmat investigators identified “56 containers of hazardous materials” on Dali, a 985-foot-long vessel. 

“That’s 764 tons of hazardous materials — mostly corrosives, flammables and some miscellaneous hazardous materials, class nine hazardous materials which would include lithium-ion batters,” Homendy said during a Wednesday press conference. “Some of the hazmat containers were breached.” 

Investigators observed some sheen on the waterway around the collapse, Homendy said, adding federal, state and local authorities are aware and in charge of addressing those issues. Sheen, which appears shiny or iridescent on the water’s surface, is sometimes caused by oil, gasoline or other pastorium products being dropped into water. 

She noted NTSB’s role is to investigate and collect perishable evidence of the incident and will not provide findings or conclusions while on scene. 

A group of construction workers were on the span of the bridge filling in potholes when the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Eight individuals were initially unaccounted for, two of which were rescued on Tuesday.

The bodies of two of the remaining six missing were recovered Wednesday, and four remain missing and are presumed dead.

Homendy said 21 crew members, plus two pilots were abord the ship during the incident. No deaths or serious injuries were reported among crew members. 

Moments before the crash, operations of the Dali issued a mayday call that the vessel had lost power but was still heading toward the span at a “very, very rapid speed,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said Tuesday. That warning allowed authorities to limit traffic on the bridge.

The ship is owned by Singapore-based Grace Ocean Private Ltd and was flying under a Singapore flag, according to The Associated Press, citing data from Marine Traffic. 

The collapse has shut down the Port of Baltimore and officials have not released a timeline for when it could reopen. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday shared concerns about the local economic impact of the port’s closure, noting 8,000 jobs are directly associated with its activities, while more than $100 million in cargo moves through the port daily.

President Biden vowed to rebuild the bridge and said he expects the federal government to foot the bill with the support of Congress.

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