NTSB Confirms 764 Tons Of Hazardous Materials Aboard Cargo Ship, Reveal Black Box Data Prior To Bridge Impact

[Screenshot/YouTube/WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore]

Hailey Gomez General Assignment Reporter
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National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials confirmed Wednesday evening there were 764 tons of hazardous materials aboard a cargo ship that struck a Baltimore bridge and revealed some of the black box data before the impact.

NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy appeared during a press conference regarding the board’s investigation so far, stating that at the time of the accident, there were 21 crew members and two pilots aboard the vessel. Additionally, Homendy confirmed that aboard the ship were 56 containers of hazardous material which accounted for 764 tons. (RELATED: Two Bodies Discovered From Baltimore Bridge Collapse, Officials Say)

“He was able to identify 56 containers of hazardous materials. That’s 764 tons of hazardous materials — mostly corrosives, flammables, and some miscellaneous hazardous materials, class nine hazardous materials, which would include lithium-ion batteries,” Homendy said.

As the investigation is still ongoing, officials did not detail how much of the materials made their way into the water, however, Homendy stated that a sheen could be seen within the port as some containers “were breached.”

The Francis Scott Key Bridge crumbled into the Patapsco River early Tuesday morning after a container ship, Dali, chartered by a Danish shipping company hit the structure. The cargo ship handed over NTSB officials roughly six hours of voyage data leading up to the tragic accident, in which a brief timeline was recited during the press conference.

The timeline given by officials appears to show that the ship’s pilot reported that the Dali had lost all power nearly 2 minutes before making impact at roughly under 8 miles per hour. Notably before losing power, the pilot had also made a radio call for tugs within the area to assist, however, there were none at the time which Homendy noted is typical protocol.

“The tugs help the vessel leave the dock, leave the port, and get into the main ship channel. And then they leave. Once it’s on its way, it’s a straight shot through the channel. So there are no tugs with the vessel at the time. So they were calling for tugs,” Homendy stated.

Homendy noted the Francis Scott Key Bridge did not have any of the redundancies typically found in present-day preferred building structures.

“The bridge is a fracture critical,” Homendy stated. “What that means is if a member fails that would likely cause a portion of, or the entire bridge, to collapse, there’s no redundancy. The preferred method for building bridges today is that there is redundancy built in, whether that’s transmitting loads to another member or some sort of structural redundancy. This bridge did not have redundancy.”

NTSB officials have begun interviewing the Dali’s captain and some other crew members Wednesday, with additional interviews continuing tomorrow. Homendy noted that not all of the information gathered will be analyzed by the NTSB, nor will they be providing “any sort of findings, conclusions or any safety recommendations while on scene.”

“Our entire focus on scene is to collect the perishable evidence — that’s documenting the scene, it’s taking photographs, it’s taking any sort of electronics or components, whatever goes away once the scene is cleaned up,” Homendy stated.

Officials are expecting that the investigation could take 12 to 24 months.