March 6, 2015 / 12:37 AM / 4 years ago

Canada port resumes most operations shut by container fire

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Port Metro Vancouver said on Thursday that operations had resumed at most port facilities shut by a shipping container fire the day before, but its Centerm container terminal was still closed.

Smoke from a fire rises at the Port Metro Vancouver March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Ben Nelms

The chemical fire, which prompted a massive emergency response late on Wednesday and shut down a large portion of Canada’s biggest port, continued to smolder at the container yard just east of downtown Vancouver.

“The cause of the fire remains undetermined at this point,” said Peter Xotta, vice president of operations at Port Metro Vancouver, speaking to reporters outside the port facility.

The burning container contained trichloroisocyanauric acid, an industrial disinfectant and bleaching agent that can cause eye, skin and lung irritation.

With the fire not yet extinguished, Xotta said it remained unclear when operations would resume at the Centerm terminal, which is one of four container terminals in Metro Vancouver.

“You can imagine having Centerm’s operations suspended for a few days is impactful on folks who are relying on this gateway to get their goods into the country or out of the country,” he said, adding he was hopeful the terminal would reopen in “the next day or two.”

Operations resumed at all other port facilities on the south shore of the Burrard Inlet Thursday morning, including at the neighboring Vanterm container terminal. Port operations in Delta and along the Fraser river were not impacted by the fire.

A 100-meter (330 feet) exclusion zone is still in place around the burning container.

The Centerm facility is operated by DP World Ltd, which said it was working with the authorities and plans to conduct a full investigation into the incident.

“DP World is communicating directly with customers impacted by the event and working to address any cargo or operational concerns,” the Dubai-based company said in a statement.

Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Cynthia Osterman

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