Doritos Beach Spill

Safe Harbor Updates

Cargo Pollution: Doritos Beach Spill

Posted: Apr 21, 2021 9:30:27 AM

Not all ship pollution comes in the form of oil spills and carbon monoxide emissions. Sometimes, ship pollution occurs when cargo containers fall off vessels, littering the ocean with anything and everything from LEGO® pieces to rubber ducks

In November 2006, a cargo spill of delicious proportions occurred off the coast of North Carolina. During a storm, a container filled with thousands of bags of Doritos chips fell overboard into the Atlantic Ocean. 

Chips Overboard

En route from Wilmington, Delaware, to Costa Rica, the Courtney L. vessel was carrying a large shipping container packed with bags of Spicy Nacho, Cool Ranch, and Nacho Cheese Doritos chips. Due to the stormy weather, the container fell off the ship and plummeted into the water, making its way toward the shore. 

The 45-foot-long container eventually washed up just south of the Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier in the Outer Banks, spilling out thousands of chip bags. Fishermen and beachcombers flocked to the shore, grabbing armloads of the still sealed and undamaged loot for themselves. Some reports even said someone made off with a pickup truck filled with the salvaged snacks. 

Clean-Up Efforts

Within several days, the National Park Service secured the area, and locked and removed the cargo container from the shores as beachgoers snagged the remaining shipwrecked bags. The Marine Safety Team determined that while the cargo disaster certainly qualified as litter, it fortunately wasn’t deemed a high risk to the environment. 

While this cargo disaster was relatively contained, any kind of ship pollution or litter can be damaging to both the cargo company and environment. In this case, the owner of the vessel, the Great White Fleet Liner Services Ltd., was held financially responsible for clean up and removal costs. 

Spills happen. Sometimes they occur because of storms and other times they’re due to human error. Because of this, it’s pertinent to have coverage. Turn to Safe Harbor, where we offer the broadest policy and the industry’s largest spill management network. Contact us today to find out more about our vessel pollution insurance.


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