The Coast Guard is warning mariners to be on the lookout for more than 70 cargo containers lost at sea.
High wind and rough seas on Saturday caused 70 to 73 cargo containers to collapse or fall off a cargo ship about 17 miles off Oregon Inlet in North Carolina, the Coast Guard said in a Sunday news release.
The cargo ship Maersk Shanghai contacted watchstanders at Sector North Carolina’s command center via VHF-FM marine radio channel 16, notifying them of the lost cargo containers.
It wasn’t immediately made clear what was in the containers, but officials warned that at least one of them held 5,913 pounds of sulfuric acid in sealed drums, as first reported by The Virginian- Pilot.
Sulfuric acid is a colorless, oily liquid that burns the skin on contact and corrodes most metals. But the environmental danger is minimal because the solution dissolves in saltwater, said Coast Guard spokesman Ronald Hodges. The acid is often used to make fertilizer.
The container is marked with diamond placards identifying the contents as a corrosive, but those may not be visible if the container were to wash ashore on the wrong side, according to The Outer Banks Voice.
The ship was on its way to Charleston, S.C.
All crew members onboard were safe and accounted for, according to a company associated with the ship. No effect on the environment had been reported as of Monday.
The Coast Guard urges all mariners to be cautious when traveling through the area.