MSC Zoe, the Biggest Container Ship in Europe, Loses Over 250 Containers

MSC Zoe lost 270 containers overboard on the 2nd January in bad weather off the coast of the Netherlands including some boxes that reportedly contained highly flammable, potentially dangerous organic peroxides.

Some of the containers have washed up on both the shores of the Netherlands and Germany. As a result of Storm Zeetje in northern Germany, with gale force winds late on Tuesday 1st January, waves of up to 10m (33ft) in height were reported on the night, demonstrating extreme conditions at sea. 

As the extent of pollution became clear on surrounding islands, including Terschelling, coastguards searched the North Sea for missing containers. The tide carried many of them to the south-west with initial images showing children's toys and TVs on the beaches. Additionally, officials have said that three containers carried toxic substances, with Dutch and German coastguards warning local people to steer clear of them. 

One of those containers had a cargo of peroxide powder, and a 25lg bag of the chemical was found on the island of Schiermonnikoog on Thursday, along with several other containers and their contents.

Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has pledged to find all the containers that fell from the MSC Zoe at the start of January and cover the full costs of the clean-up. MSC said it wanted to assure the authorities and public in the Netherlands and Germany it was committed to paying the full costs of the clean-up;

MSC is committed to continue searching the sea for the containers which fell overboard, until the last one is found. MSC will also ensure that the beaches of the Dutch and German coastlines are surveyed until all debris related to this incident has been cleared. 

The shipping line has appointed Ardent Global to coordinate the search at sea for missing containers lost from the vessel. They have claimed; 

Other specialist response companies already appointed by MSC continue to work with authorities and members of the public on beach cleaning, as previously communicated. 

MSC would not comment on the cargo carried in the containers lost overboard and said it was not aware of any injury to the public from the cargo. However, it also said; 

Members of the public are nonetheless advised to exercise caution when encountering containers or other materials on the beaches and to report any discoveries to local authorities, in order that they can relay the information to those in charge of the clean-up operation and avoid any unecessary personal injury. Caution should be applied in particular for any containers or drums which are labelled as having hazardous content and these should only be touched under supervision of the authorities or clean-up experts.