Thirty-five days after running aground in the mud and silt of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, the container ship Ever Forward was finally freed. But there are concerns about the potential for lasting damage to the environment.
Doug Myers, the Maryland senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, told WTOP that because there was no fuel spill as a result of the incident, people may assume the environment hasn’t been affected.
But the bottom of the bay is more than just sand and silt. “A lot of people may look at it and see mud,” but Myers said it’s home to clams, worms and little creatures called amphipods — “shrimplike things” that make up the base of the food chain for other aquatic life, such as flounder and cow-nosed rays.
Myers said he was concerned about possible damage to the Ever Forward that could result in a fuel spill.
“We want to make sure the damages are quantified and mitigated,” Myers said.
State environment officials said in a news release that fuel tanks on the ship were regularly monitored and that a containment boom had been “pre-staged for rapid deployment in the event of a fuel release.”
On filling in the areas that have been dredged, Myers said, “It’s never as good as a habitat as it was before when a ship runs aground.”
The Maryland Department of the Environment indicated that a plan to assess the impact, including possible damage to a nearby natural oyster bar, would be carried out.
Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, in a statement, said that he looked forward to “the environmental restoration and compensation phase” of the mitigation process.