After a near-miss, the safety of Alaska-bound fuel barges is under scrutiny


A close to-miss involving a Skagway-sure tug and tanker barge hauling hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline via the Inside Passage has reignited debate in Canada over delivery petroleum via its territory.

In October final yr, the Nathan E. Stewart tug had simply unloaded its gasoline cargo in Ketchikan.

About 29,000 gallons of diesel gasoline spilled. A close-by clam fishery utilized by the Heiltsuk First Nations tribe stays shut down thirteen months later.

Harley Marine Providers, the father or mother firm of the tug operator, is not commenting, citing the open investigation by Transport Canada.

However in Bella Bella, a group of 1,600, individuals have been listening intently to chatter on the VHF radio and speaking to crew members and Coast Guard officers.

“The precise tug and barge was hit by a rogue wave, inflicting one of many pegs that holds the tug to the barge to interrupt and that led the crew to launch themselves utterly from the barge as a result of it was placing the tug in peril,” stated William Housty, the Heiltsuk First Nations’ incident commander in Bella Bella.

Two crew members have been reportedly capable of bounce from the tug to the unfastened barge to drop its anchor.

In any other case it might’ve run aground or damaged up on a rock pile he stated he might see from the air simply meters away.

“We have had these two incidents within the final yr, it is actually sort of magnified these type of tugs and put into query whether or not these tugs are literally able to dealing with the seas on this a part of the world,” Housty stated.

Within the wake of the wreck final yr, restrictions on barge visitors had just lately been tightened by Canadian authorities.

The tug Jake Shearer and its barge have been apparently heeding new navigation guidelines on transiting gasoline vessels that required them to keep away from sure slender straits within the space.

“The American tug and barge business have been going up and down this coast for over a century,” stated Kevin Obermeyer, chief government officer of the Pacific Pilotage Affiliation which regulates marine navigation on Canada’s west coast.

The affiliation routinely points waivers to the gasoline corporations so their vessels aren’t required to have a Canadian pilot on board as is required of different heavy vessels.

Because the Exxon Valdez spill, the U.S. requires vessels carrying petroleum cargo to have an authorised contingency plan for spills and fires. Canada does not.

“The oversight that we do is ensure that the officers and the crew on these vessels have been going by means of…



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