The Maryland Board of Public Works has approved a wetlands license that requires the owner of the container ship Ever Forward containership to pay nearly $700,000 to help mitigate impacts to aquatic habitats, namely oysters, from last year’s grounding and salvage operation in the Chesapeake Bay.
The Ever Forward grounded on March 13, 2022 outside the main shipping channel after failing to make a turn because the pilot was distracted by his cell phone, according to the Coast Guard’s investigation into the incident.
The 1,095-foot ship was eventually refloated more than a month later with the help of two anchored barges and multiple tugboats, and after dredging of more than 200,000 cubic yards of material from around the vessel and removal of over over 500 containers.
The Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved a wetlands license that requires the ship’s owner, Evergreen Marine Corp., to pay $676,200 for the seeding and enhancement of natural oyster bars.
The grounding took place in a legal charted oyster bar and the bow of the ship was at a depth of 18 feet. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a report in June 2022 regarding the potential impacts to the oyster bar and aquatic habitat, including the results of a post-grounding survey revealing that oysters habitats were missing from the grounding and dredging site.
The board’s action on Wednesday ratified the emergency license, with modification, by requiring Evergreen to mitigate the impacts from the dredging operations.
A statement from Evergreen indicated the funding is more of a mutual agreement than a levied fine.
“After the incident of Ever Forward’s grounding off the Port of Baltimore, Evergreen has been closely working with concerned authorities in an effort to evaluate and mitigate the impact of the refloating operation on the surrounding area.
“Earlier this week, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved an environmental remediation agreement between the State of Maryland and Evergreen that will establish a fund to provide environmental support to Chesapeake Bay and bolster the health of oyster beds in the area. Contrary to some recent press accounts, the agreement to fund this effort is not due to any sort of fine levied against Evergreen,” Evergreen’s statement said.
Evergreen’s payment to the DNR will help the reseeding of 41 acres of oyster bars to satisfy the mitigation requirement. Considerations for locations within Anne Arundel County where the grounding took place will be given priority.
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