The Petersfield sits damaged in waters near Kitimat following an accident in the Douglas Channel last weekend.
An incident involving a 187-metre bulk freighter traveling between Vancouver and Kitimat last weekend shows why the northwest should be leery of allowing tanker traffic in north coast waters, says Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
The Bahama-registered Petersfield suffered a steering mishap while running at full manoeuvring speed just south of Grant Point, approximately two hours south of Kitimat, resulting in severe damage to the front of the vessel.
“What we know from the Canadian Transportation Safety Board is that the 40,000-ton (dead weight) vessel veered sharply starboard and hit the beach at a depth of 400 metres early Saturday,” said Cullen.
“If that freighter had grounded itself in shallow water, the results could have been far more serious…Had this been an oil tanker with a full payload, it could have been catastrophic,” Cullen said, pointing out ships of the disabled vessel’s tonnage carry tens of thousands of barrels of oil or diesel for propulsion alone.
And North Coast MLA Gary Coons echoed those sentiments.
“It’s a sure wake up call to those who insist that oil tankers are safe on our coast. If we allow supertankers…It’s not a question of if it will happen, it’s a question of when it will happen!”
The incident has also caused concern amongst members of the Village of Hartley Bay, who experienced firsthand what can happen when a large ship sinks in their territory with the sinking of the Queen of the North.
“The Gitga’at are of the sea and we have always known that oil and gas tankers in these waters were a horrible and frightening idea. Hopefully the Petersfield incident will help Canada and the world understand that too,” said spokesperson Cameron Hill.
“This ship was likely being guided by Pacific pilots who are the best navigators and seafarers in the entire world. But even with them onboard and other sophisticated safety precautions, these shippingaccidents still occur. Mechanical failure or human error, the outcomes are the same for our culture and our territory."
“This ship was likely being guided by Pacific pilots who are the best navigators and seafarers in the entire world. But even with them onboard and other sophisticated safety precautions, these shipping accidents still occur. Mechanical failure or human error, the outcomes are the same for our culture and our territory. The oil spills over
Cullen noted that the incident took place on the proposed route of tankers that would use the Enbridge Gateway pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels of oil and condensate between Alberta and Kitimat requiring about 225 ships yearly, and the Gitga’at of Hartley Bay note that those ships would actually be larger than the infamous Exxon Valdez. However, Enbridge VP of Public and Government Affairs Steve Greenaway said it is important to note that there are significant differences between the ship and the process that was in place with the Petersfield accident and what would be in place should the proposed terminal in Kitimat become a reality.
“The biggest difference is that there would be an escort tug tethered to the tanker and its purpose would be to step in should an incident similar to this one occur…We have simulated the size of the ship in probably the top simulator available and simulated an incident similar to what we believe occurred here, and in all simulations it proved that the escort tug could maneuver the tanker in this situation. The tethered tug model isn’t going to be cheap, but it is absolutely critical and we wouldn’t consider moving tankers up the Douglas Channel without that,” he said.
Other differences would be double hull tankers and independent vetting of the ships that would be eligible to use the terminal, looking at things such as safety record of the ship and the crew and the age of the ship.
“This does reinforce what we are saying, which is that there is currently risk to the coast from current actions. There is a sense out there that there are no tankers…What we need to speak about is the first response capability on the coast. We would be investing over $100 million in first response capabilities,” said Greenaway.
And despite the accident Cullen noted that the message he has been getting from municipalities isn’t necessarily one opposing energy-based developments.
“Coincidentally, I just spent the weekend with over 25 community leaders from across the northwest who all agreed on the need for energy projects that strengthen our economy while respecting our northwest values and ecosystems.”
Investigations into the incident by both the Transportation Safety Board and Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association are underway. Ironically, the incident took place the weekend before a major international exercise to address an oil spill on the North Coast took place in Prince Rupert.
Je partage ce blog citoyen et apolitique avec tous les passionnés de la protection environnementale et de la défense des intérêts des personnes vivants le long de l'oléoduc pétrolier entre Montréal et Portland dans le Maine créé en 1941.
Le but de ce blog est d'informer chaque citoyen sur les risques réels créés par la modification du flux pétrolier bitumineux dans un oléoduc construit en 1950.