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MD Comptroller Franchot warns of potential environmental, economic consequences from stuck ship in Bay

The Ever Forward has been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay since March 13.

BALTIMORE — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is calling on Evergreen Marine Corporation to "put up a large fund right now, to protect the state of Maryland" from possible economic and environmental consequences that could be wrought from a container ship that's been stuck in the Chesapeake Bay for four weeks. 

The Ever Forward, a 1,000-foot ship loaded with 5,000 containers, was heading from the Port of Baltimore to Norfolk, Va., but on March 13 it "ran aground just north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge," the Associated Press reported.

A crew is working to unload the ship to help it move forward once more.

The Evergreen Marine Corporation owns the Ever Forward, the same company that owned the Ever Given, a ship that was aground in the Suez Canal and disrupted the supply chain for about a week, the Washington Post reports, until it was freed.

Franchot, who is also running to become the Democratic nominee for Maryland's governor, is warning of potential environmental consequences by the Ever Forward.

The comptroller spoke to WUSA9 in an interview about the possible environmental consequences and costs Maryland could face from the stuck container ship.

"It is very, very stuck in lots and lots and lots of mud and it is a huge ship. So refloating it is very problematic and doing it without breaching the hall where this fuel is 750,000 gallons of it ... it's a huge amount," Franchot said. "[E]ven a little bit of that leaking into the bay would cause permanent damage."

Franchot noted that attempting to free the ship has already caused "a large amount of environmental disruption." He believes that the Evergreen Marine Corporation should "put up some form of good intention payment, and it could be in the range of $75 million [to] $100 million."

"[T]hey've already caused a large amount of environmental disruption and damage just by the dredging that's gone on," Franchot said. 

The comptroller said he has not reached out directly to Evergreen Marine Corporation, but he would like to see them put the money forward voluntarily to "take responsibility." 

Franchot said he's spoken about this situation with the Board of Public Works and noted that there are many people working hard to fix the problem, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Port of Baltimore.

"I applaud everybody who's involved in the refloating, but it hasn't worked for a month, we hope that it will work this weekend or whenever the next moon arrives or whatever, full moon, but this is something that potentially could be very, very problematic for the state of Maryland, which is known around the world for the Chesapeake Bay."

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