Canadian authorities to salvage barge wreckage from Robson Bight

The following is the text of a press release issued by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans:
(VICTORIA, British Columbia) — The British Columbia government and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans will salvage critical pieces of wreckage from Robson Bight following the August 2007 barge incident, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner and Federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Loyola Hearn announced today.

“Working in cooperation with the federal government, we have determined that this is the best way to proceed,” said Penner. “As with any salvage operation, there will be risks involved but we want to retrieve the equipment as soon as possible while minimizing potential impacts to orcas and other wildlife.

Recent video footage of the sunken equipment in Robson Bight Ecological Reserve shows that the vehicles are mostly upright, relatively undamaged and do not appear to be leaking.

“Recognizing how ecologically sensitive Robson Bight is, it’s important for our two levels of government to work together, so we can remove the major risk of future pollution in Robson Bight from the barge incident,” said Minister Hearn. “We will consult with experts to determine the best approach to minimize the potential risk of this salvage operation.”

The B.C. Ministry of Environment contracted with technical experts to provide additional analysis of the equipment in Robson Bight. This helped the two levels of government assess the risks posed by the equipment and identify options for its mitigation.

Those analyses included a look by Environment Canada at the possible effects if any of the remaining petroleum products are released, and reviews by other experts to further assess the condition and stability of the tanker sitting on the seabed. The partners then reviewed the experts’ findings before determining next steps. Operational details of the salvage operation will be released shortly.

On Aug. 20, 2007 a barge carrying vehicles and forestry equipment foundered, dumping 11 pieces of equipment inside the boundary of the protected area.
By Professional Mariner Staff