Coast Guard Investigating Loss of Containers from Barge Off Florida

Mike Schuler
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December 9, 2015

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard say it is continuing to respond to the loss of containers from the towed barge Columbia Elizabeth, which reported losing multiple containers between Cape Canaveral and Palm Beach, Florida, Sunday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Coast Guard crews had removed 243 containers from the barge at the Port of Palm Beach, and crews will continue to remove containers surrounding the affected cargo bay to better access and assess how many containers were lost.

The Coast Guard estimates that as many as 25 containers may have fallen overboard at sea. Nine containers are confirmed to have fallen overboard so far. 

The Columbia Elizabeth barge is on charter to TOTE Maritime and was being towed by the tug Capt. Latham when the incident occurred. 

The Coast Guard continues to issue hourly safety marine information broadcasts along the Florida Atlantic coastline, advising boaters to maintain a lookout for containers that may be adrift at sea.

One missing container is known to contain wet cell batteries. While the batteries are not believed to pose a serious environmental risk, the batteries do contain corrosive material which may result in chemical burns to the skin.

Mariners and beachgoers are urged to not approach or open any containers in the water on shore. Anyone finding containers or batteries should contact the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard air assets continue to search the Florida Atlantic Coast between Palm Beach and Cape Canaveral for containers in the water or along the shoreline.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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