Hazardous Materials Leaking From Baltimore Bridge Shipwreck

Hazardous materials aboard the cargo ship that rammed the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday morning are leaking into the river, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Agency Chair Jennifer Homendy confirmed that 56 containers of such materials were identified on the Dali. They contained a startling 764 tons of what are described as “mostly corrosives, flammables.”

Homendy added that there are “miscellaneous hazardous materials, class nine hazardous materials which would include lithium ion batteries.” Some of the containers were breached, she told reporters, and a “sheen” has developed on the river surrounding the collapsed bridge.

The death total is still unclear after the ship collided with the bridge on Tuesday. Some in Congress called for the tragedy to promote change in the way Washington permits large infrastructure projects to be undertaken.

Rep. Mike Collins (R-GA) posted on X, formerly Twitter, “We must ease the regulatory burdens of NEPA to get this critical bridge back up as soon as possible. And while we are at it, revise the permitting process for all infrastructure projects and improvements.”

The more immediate concern, of course, is the hazardous cargo.

Coast Guard Vice Admiral Peter Gautier claimed on Wednesday during a White House briefing that at present there is “no threat to the public.”

There appears to have been a fortunate break in the catastrophe. Gautier reported, “The majority of those containers are closer to the pilot house and are completely unaffected by the damage to the bow of the ship. And we have not determined that there’s any kind of release at this time.”

This is contradictory information from what was released by the NTSB.

He called the continued presence of the bow of the ship of parts of the bridge the “critical” issue at this juncture.

Gautier said, “We will be coordinating very closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and their contractors to first effect the removal of that debris before the vessel can then be removed.

He added that the bow of the ship is sitting on the bottom due to the weight of debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the bridge, which was completed in the 1970s, was not constructed to withstand “a direct impact on a critical support pier.”

The cargo ship that struck the bridge weighed roughly 200 million pounds.