Tug-and-barge fuel shipments through B.C.'s Inside Passage 'a disaster waiting to hap

Discussion in 'General Open Forum' started by agentaqua, Jun 11, 2015.

  1. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member


    Tug-and-barge fuel shipments through B.C.'s Inside Passage 'a disaster waiting to happen' (with video)

    Pilotage official says transport method complies with regulations

    By Nick Eagland, The Province June 11, 2015 10:13 AM

    Tug-and-barge fuel shipments through B.C.'s Inside Passage 'a disaster waiting to happen' (with video)

    The tug Nathan E. Stewart, right, pushes a barge through the Inside Passage on the coast of B.C. — Ingmar Lee

    B.C.’s marine pilotage authority is challenging an environmental activist’s claim that the transportation of petroleum products off the coast using tugboats and barges is “a disaster waiting to happen.”

    Three weeks ago, Denny Island resident Ingmar Lee posted a video online to highlight his concerns about an articulated tug and barge (ATB) hauling petroleum products from Burnaby and from Anacortes WA to Alaska through B.C.’s Inside Passage.

    The video has since had close to 90,000 views and brought into focus what Lee sees as a looming threat to B.C.’s coastal waters.

    “There’s an incredible, overwhelming interest in the tanker issue right now and there can be no more secrecy with it,” Lee told The Province.

    “This Inside Passage, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.”

    10,000 Ton Texas Tanker traveling the B.C. Coast from Ingmar Lee on Vimeo. https://vimeo.com/127905057

    But Capt. Kevin Obermeyer, president and CEO at Pacific Pilotage Authority, said the ATB complies with all marine regulations and the Canadian Shipping Act, and multiple redundancies are in place to ensure the vessel is seaworthy.

    Each week, the tug Nathan E. Stewart, operated by the U.S.-based Kirby Corporation, makes the trip pushing one of two barges, DBL-54 and DBL-55.

    Each barge has a carrying capacity of 8,677 tonnes and is loaded with refined petroleum products including gasoline, diesel and aviation fuel, according to the Pacific Pilotage Authority, a Crown corporation that oversees safe pilotage in B.C.

    Transport Canada has a policy preventing tankers of more than 40,000 tonnes deadweight from using the southern portion of the Inside Passage.

    The ATB carries a fraction of that weight, but Lee said he’s worried about the potential for a disaster on the scale of the Exxon Valdez tanker spill, which struck a reef and dumped some 40,000 tonnes of oil off the coast of Alaska in 1989.

    Lee said an example of the risk posed by the ATB can be seen in a 2011 incident report filed by the U.S. Coast Guard, when the Nathan E Stewart was involved in a “potential spill” after losing power to both engines in rough Alaskan seas while pushing a loaded barge.

    Lee said he wants such shipments rerouted away from the Inside Passage and hauled offshore by Aframax tankers instead.

    He also wants companies that ship petroleum products using ATBs to be required to publicly post what’s inside their tanks.

    Obermeyer said the ATB is required to use escort tugs when coming through the Burrard Inlet, and its barges do not haul bunker C fuel, the toxic fuel spilled by the tanker Marathassa in Vancouver’s English Bay two months ago.

    “We all live on this coast and the last thing I want to see is any oil in the water,” Obermeyer said.

    “My job is to make sure any vessel that’s approved to move moves safely and so we will make sure that whatever we do, we will have as many safety measures in place as possible.”

    The transport of crude oil via ATBs would be a “different conversation” Obermeyer said, and would warrant a full risk assessment.

    “We’re a trading nation — we need to trade, but we need to trade safely, and that’s the bottom line,” he said.



    © Copyright (c) The Province
  2. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    What's the solution for the coastal communities that rely on fuel deliveries?

    I realize this argument is based on a single American tug, but......
  3. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Good question hambone. Shooting from the hip - avoiding certain high-risk current/traffic areas and acknowledging differences in fate and response ability w different products. Gas and diesel are actually low impact in comparison to other petroleum products (esp. crude and dilbit) and reasonably easy to clean-up in comparison.
  4. Barnacle Bill

    Barnacle Bill Active Member

    Next time I see tug pushing, I will pay more attention. I have a good view from my house in Campbell
    River across to the lighthouse on Quadra Island. Thanks for posting,........BB
  5. Tugcapitan

    Tugcapitan Well-Known Member

    Canadian tugs with fuel barges also frequent Sensitive waters (are there any other kind?) in Washington and Alaska towing or pushing barges full of fuel. Some passages in Alaska are just as if not more challenging Navigation wise than many of our inside passages. If we force American business out of Canadian waters, they will force our deliveries out of Alaska and Washington, crippling the trade between us. Or maybe they would just ignore us as we seem incapable of enforcing anything....
    Regardless of that though, many communities throughout BC rely on tug and barge delivered fuel products. Every drop of fuel on Vancouver Island, in Bella Bella and the in the Queen Charlotte Islands is delivered by barge. The inside passages are not the shortest routes North, but are the norm because they have proven to be safest waterways for smaller commercial traffic. Navigating challenging areas at slack tide while staying out of the heavy weather on the outside has been done effiently and safely for decades. Each vessel is delivering fuel in double hulled barges while complying with and operating under ISM-ISO codes and other regulatory bodies that get more stringent by the day. Transport Canada, Lloyd's, and inspectors from the oil companies themselves (who avoid accidents and bad press like the plague) inspect these vessels and examine their crews credentials numerous times each year. Risk mitigation is the name of the game in an industry where accidents could have massive financial, environmental and cultural consequences. Sending everyone into the open Pacific Northwest is not the answer.
    I believe the public should be more worried about the operations slipping through the cracks. Mom and Pop companies that can't afford to build double hulled barges under the newer regulations, and so are using under manned and inappropriate boats towing insufficiently inspected or approved barges to transport chained down fuel trucks to deliver petroleum products to the smaller communities, as well as to logging and fish camp operations. Some may remember one that went down in Johnstone Strait a few years ago. The public should demand that the right people are delivering petroleum on this coast with the appropriate equipment.
    As for using tankers instead, none of these communities have the infrastructure or facilities to receive them. It's a non-starter.
    As for the notorious Ingmar Lee who made the concerned if misguided video, how does he suggest his fuel be delivered to Denny Island? Tug and Barge. His reference to the Nathan E Stewart's barge as a tanker is incorrect. Tug and barge units are allowed up the inside passage where tankers are not because of their handling characteristics. Twin screw tugs with barges equipped with bow thrusters compared to tankers, handle like F350's compared to tandem tanker trucks. That is, until the tankers have their tugs in attendance.
    The sensational part of the video where the Nathan E Stewart is experiencing engine trouble is concerning. But it was also in the Gulf of Alaska in heavy weather, exactly where Ingmar Lee proposes traffic go instead of passing his home near the safer inside waters of Bella Bella. When a plane crashes or a car has an accident, we don't halt all traffic. We investigate the cause and take corrective action to prevent a similar occurrence.

    I realize I am completely biased. Discard my opinion as required.
    However realize this, nobody, but nobody wants a spill and accident free Coast more than my colleagues and I.
  6. ziggy

    ziggy Well-Known Member

    I'm with you TC. I think the gypo outfits moving equipment and fuel to logging camps and isolated villages are more of a threat. But what are the options? I also have said for years that any deep sea in Vancouver harbour carries a large enough fuel load to cause significant damage and due to the vast numbers should be more of a concern than tankers. It's all risk vs reward and amazingly few people give it a second thought. Mention tankers though.....!
  7. Time

    Time Active Member

    Anybody know how many tankers pass through Juan de Fuca to the refinery at Cherry Point in Washington?
  8. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    Good discussion - thanks everyone.

    Thanks TC for your input. Nice to hear from someone close to the action. I agree w your comments.

    Another issue - not acknowledged by Ingmar - is that whether we like it or not - the Inside Passage is an international waterway connecting AK to the Continental US. Canada does not have the authority to shut down traffic. Canada does have the right to demand certain safety features and insurance for V/Ls while in Canadian waters - but not the right to outright ban these (so-called) tankers from the passage.

    Everyone remember the Nanoose Bay controversy?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2015
  9. Time

    Time Active Member

    Nanoose Bay?
    Refresh memory please.
  10. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    trying to remember it accurately, Time. I think it went something like this:
    AK and the US deceided to take more salmon on the renegotiation of the US/Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty.
    Premier Glen Clark got riled and said that the Nanoose Bay Missle Testing site was Provincial seabed and the province would prohibit US warships.
    Canada announced its decision to expropriate the testing range out of Provincial Crown Land holdings.
    I believe the whole mess went to court - and I believe the issue of international navigation pilotage came-up somewhere in this mess.
    I'll try to see if I can provide more details...
  11. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea PART III. STRAITS USED FOR INTERNATIONAL NAVIGATION

    Article 38. Right of transit passage

    1. In straits referred to in article 37, all ships and aircraft enjoy the right of transit passage, which shall not be impeded; except that, if the strait is formed by an island of a State bordering the strait and its mainland, transit passage shall not apply if there exists seaward of the island a route through the high seas or through an exclusive economic zone of similar convenience with respect to navigational and hydrographical characteristics.

    2. Transit passage means the exercise in accordance with this Part of the freedom of navigation and overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of the strait between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone. However, the requirement of continuous and expeditious transit does not preclude passage through the strait for the purpose of entering, leaving or returning from a State bordering the strait, subject to the conditions of entry to that State.


    Article 45. Innocent passage

    1. The regime of innocent passage, in accordance with Part 11, section 3, shall apply in straits used for international navigation:

    (a) excluded from the application of the regime of transit passage under article 38, paragraph 1; or

    (b) between a part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and the territorial sea of a foreign State.

    2. There shall be no suspension of innocent passage through such straits.

    United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea PART II TERRITORIAL SEA AND CONTIGUOUS ZONE

    Subsection A. Rules Applicable to All Ships

    Article 17. Right of innocent passage
    Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.

    Article 24
    Duties of the coastal State
    1. The coastal State shall not hamper the innocent passage of foreign
    ships through the territorial sea except in accordance with this Convention.
    In particular, in the application of this Convention or of any laws or
    regulations adopted in conformity with this Convention, the coastal State
    shall not:
    (a) impose requirements on foreign ships which have the practical
    effect of denying or impairing the right of innocent passage; or
    (b) discriminate in form or in fact against the ships of any State or
    against ships carrying cargoes to, from or on behalf of any
    2. The coastal State shall give appropriate publicity to any danger to
    navigation, of which it has knowledge, within its territorial sea.
  12. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  13. Time

    Time Active Member

    Thank you for the link AA.
    Made for some "good" reading.
    The lease cancellation of the sub testing area was only a sideshow in the bigger issue.
    All politics it seems.
  14. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

    At 0:30s to 0:38s into the video at the start of this thread - Ingmar Lee states: "Canadians believe the BC Inside Passage is a tanker-free zone - that is written into the Canada Shipping Act"

    Here's the link to the CSA: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/c-10.15/FullText.html

    It's not in there...

    He also adds text at the end of the video from 2m:30s-2m:34s and states that the CSA s.189.2 states:

    "No person shall transport oil in a tanker in the areas of the sea adjacent to the West Coast of Canada, known as Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound"

    Instead, s.189 of the CSA actually states:

    "189. If the Minister believes on reasonable grounds that a vessel may discharge, or may have discharged, a prescribed pollutant, the Minister may

    (a) direct a vessel, if it is about to enter or is within waters to which this Part applies, to provide the Minister with any information that the Minister considers appropriate for the administration of this Part;

    (a.1) direct a vessel that is required to have a shipboard oil pollution emergency plan under the regulations to provide him or her with any information concerning it and its implementation;
    (b) direct a vessel that is required to have on board a declaration described in paragraph 167(1)(b) to provide information concerning it;
    (c) direct a vessel that is within or about to enter waters in respect of which this Part applies to proceed through those waters by the route and in the manner that the Minister may specify; and
    (d) direct the vessel to proceed to the place that the Minister may select, by the route and in the manner that the Minister may specify, and to
    (i) unload the pollutant, or
    (ii) moor, anchor or remain there for any reasonable period that the Minister may specify.

    2001, c. 26, s. 189;
    2005, c. 29, s. 30.

    Nothing like making it up as you go. That'll help the credibility...

    I have no idea of what he is talking about when he says the barge has a "special exemption", either..
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2015
  15. Tugcapitan

    Tugcapitan Well-Known Member

    Eating my words on this one today.
  16. Cuba Libre

    Cuba Libre Well-Known Member

  17. agentaqua

    agentaqua Well-Known Member

  18. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    Nathan E Stewart, it's the ATB tug featured in that guys YouTube video where he calls it a tanker. Surprising and shocking day in coastal shipping. I would think this has major implications but we'll see.

    Thankfully everyone is safe and there's appears to be no major spill. I did read on Facebook that potentially the stern of the tug is submerged??
  19. hambone

    hambone Well-Known Member

    The tug is just about underwater. Some of the pictures showing up online are sickening. Not good.
  20. GLG

    GLG Well-Known Member

    Yup not good......

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