Tag Archives: oilspill

Enbridge releases tanker plans for Kitimat

Better late than never, I’ve been plugging my way through the marine side of Enbridge’s application to bring supertankers into B.C.’s northwestern waters.

Last weekend, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I saw Enbridge’s huge advert in The Vancouver Sun claiming its Northern Gateway project would make “B.C.’s North Coast safer for all vessels”.

The company must be cursing the timing of the terrible oil spill now reaching the shores of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida.

Enbridge’s proposal doesn’t involve an oil rig, but the spill demonstrates yet again what oil response experts have always said: once the oil is in the water, you’re hooped.

Anyway, this weekend I downloaded Volume 8A of Enbridge’s proposal to the National Energy Board – the volume dealing with marine transportation.

A lot of the info is simply background filler, and despite being 152 pages long, details are very sketchy.

For example, talking about the type of tankers to be used, Enbridge’s report notes: “At this stage of the project, there is limited information regarding marketing plans, trade routes, or details of potential charterers or their tankers and, as a result, specific plans or technical documents of the design ships cannot be provided.”

However, here are some the key parts of the plan, as described in the report.

How much extra traffic?

About 220 vessels per year would travel through Douglas Channel, an increase of 86 per cent compared to current traffic to Kitimat. At Wright Sound, the project-related tankers would cause a 13 per cent increase in reporting traffic. And at the Prince Rupert MCTS station, project-related tankers would cause an increase of 3 per cent for the total reporting traffic.

What route would the tankers take?

The tankers would use one of three main routes:

1. The Northern Approach (for tankers arriving from or departing to Asian ports). 158 nautical miles. Via Haida Gwaii through Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait, Browning Entrance, Principe Channel, Nepean Sound, Otter Channel, Squally Channel, Lewis Passage, Wright Sound and Douglas Channel.

2. The Southern Approach (Direct) (for tankers arriving from or departing to west coast ports south of Kitimat) 98 naut. miles. Via Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Strait, Caamaño Sound, Campania Sound, Squally Channel, Lewis Passage, Wright Sound and Douglas Channel.

3. The Southern Approach (via Principe Channel), (in weather conditions where Caamaño Sound cannot be used) 133 naut. miles. This route goes via Hecate Strait, Browning Entrance, Principe Channel, Nepean Sound, Otter Channel, Squally Channel, Lewis Passage, Wright Sound and Douglas Channel.

What kind of tankers would be used?

Tankers calling at the Kitimat Terminal would, most likely, be chartered. They would all be double-hulled, due to international regulations requiring all tankers in international trade to be double hulled by 2010.

Most likely, Aframax or Suezmax tankers would carry condensate and the larger VLCC (supertankers) and Suezmax tankers would carry export oil cargo.

Pilots, escort and harbor tugs

Local pilots would board and assist all incoming and outgoing tankers. During good weather and in daylight, helicopters might be used to lower pilots onto the tanker.

A close escort tug would be used for all laden and ballasted (empty) tankers, beginning at the pilot boarding stations (Triple Island and proposed sites in Browning Passage and Caamaño Sound) to and from the marine terminal. The close escort tug would normally be positioned approximately 500 metres astern of the tanker, or as directed by the shipmaster or pilot during transit.

* A tethered tug, in addition to a close escort tug, would be used for all laden tankers in the Confined Channel Assessment Area (CCAA). The tug would be tethered to the stern of the laden tanker at all times, ready to assist with steering or slowing down.

* Three or four tugs for berthing and two or three tugs for unberthing the tanker. One of these tugs could also provide escort services.

Rescue tugs

At least one of the escort tugs would be equipped to provide ocean rescue capability and would be available to any ship in distress along the north coast of British Columbia.

Tanker speed

Average tanker speeds close to shore would be 8 to 12 knots: eight to 10 knots in confined areas and 10 to 12 knots in straight channel areas such as Principe Channel and Douglas Channel.

Navigation aids

Radar would be installed along important sections of the Northern and Southern Approaches to monitor all marine traffic and provide additional guidance to pilots and other vessels in the area.

(Posted: June 8, 2010 by Alison Bate)
* What if a tanker heading for Kitimat hit another vessel?
* Enbridge’s marine safety plans
* Emergency prevention, preparedness and response – report by Enbridge Northern Gateway Project Joint Review Panel

What if a containership ran aground on Nootka Island?

By Alison Bate

When a ship gets into trouble off the remote west coast of Vancouver Island, there are very few rescue services around.

The province relies on a commercial tug in the area being able to help out. Currently, major seagoing tugs carry electronic tracking devices so they can be located in real-time on computer charts. This information is provided to US and Canadian Marine Vessel Traffic Services to refer to if there is an emergency request for tug assistance. This is known as a “tug-of-opportunity”.

Apart from the fact that there may not be a tug capable of holding a large ship cruising by at the right time, there are several other flaws in this arrangement. Continue reading

Tug escort rules vary in B.C.

By Alison Bate

I must admit I was a little surprised not to get a straight answer from Transport Canada at first about the number of tug escorts traveling with condensate tankers into Kitimat.

I assumed it was clearly set down in the legislation whether tankers carrying this kind of hydrocarbon mixture required tug escorts and, if so, how many.

After all, set rules are laid down for laden oil tankers passing through Haro Strait. They are required to travel with tug escorts, as are laden crude oil tankers leaving the port of Vancouver, typically from Kinder Morgan Canada’s Westridge Terminal in Burnaby.

Continue reading

What if a tanker heading for Kitimat hit another vessel?

By Alison Bate

What would happen if a tanker on its way to Kitimat collided with a tug in the scenic Inside Passage?

According to the author of a new report, major flaws would be exposed in the way marine accidents are handled here in British Columbia.

“Nobody is essentially watching the store – at least not the whole building,” says EnviroEmerg consultant Stafford Reid, near the end of a mammoth 144-page report quietly released in mid-September.

Continue reading

The end of the New Carissa

By Alison Bate

The Ship That Will Not Die has finally been laid to rest, after nearly a decade stuck in the surf zone of a remote Oregon beach.

Titan Salvage used the jack-up barges Karlissa A and Karlissa B to remove the last visible remains of the New Carissa this week.

The stern of the New Carissa in 1999

The stern of the New Carissa in 1999

The Florida-based company signed a $16.5 million US contract with Oregon Department of State Lands last year and salvage work on the rusting remains of the stern began in May.

Wendy Wiles, from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality, told the 2008 Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force meeting in Victoria, B.C. recently that very little oil was released during the salvage project.

A series of failed attempts to remove the wreck followed after the ship ran aground during a storm on Feb. 4, 1999, leaking about 70,000 gallons of oil and killing around 2,300 seabirds.

The lawsuits also followed but in 2006, Oregon State Land Board approved a $22 million US settlement with the owners, and used most of the money to sign the current salvage contract with Titan.

Published in 2008, revised June 2019

See also:
* My story after landing on the wreck of the New Carissa in 1999
* New Carissa 20 years later (published in Feb. 2019)

The legacy of the Cosco Busan

By Alison Bate

It looks like a primitive computer game, but this real-time ship tracking system on the BoatingSF.com website shows the containership Cosco Busan hitting the Bay Bridge in San Francisco Bay last November.

The ship, leaving its berth in Oakland in heavy fog with the required pilot on board, is shown as a bright red arrow in the right of the animation. Its tug is shown as the blue arrow trailing in its wake of the containership. After hitting the bridge span, the ship anchors, and the tug scurries away.

More than 53,000 gallons of bunker fuel spilled into the Bay, killing at least 1,800 birds, oiling another 1,000, and triggering enormous clean-up costs.

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jonathan Cilley

U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jonathan Cilley

The ship left port on Dec.20, 2007, as this U.S. Coast Guard picture shows, but the repercussions still continue, the 2008 Pacific States/B.C. Oil Spill Task Force heard in Victoria, Canada on Sept. 18.

A barrage of bills in the wake of the spill last year is now in political limbo. California lawmakers were highly critical over the spill response and passed a series of bills to address the problems. But now an impasse between the state’s Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled legislature has put the bills in limbo.

The state budget was due to be set on July 1, but still hasn’t been decided. In retaliation, the governor vowed to veto all 800-plus bills under consideration – including the oilspill bills – unless lawmakers first approve a state budget by Sept.30.

“We’re all putting on our helmets and waiting to see what happens. It’s going to be very interesting,” said Steve Edinger, acting administrator of California’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response.

Other developments:

* Legislation has also been introduced at the federal level to make ships safer and assess and improve vessel tracking procedures.

* Around 14 investigations have been launched into the incident, including a key review by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, due to be released in early January.

* Fleet Management has offered to plead no contest to charges of negligence and falsifying documents related to the spill. A judge has refused to accept the offer. The company was indicted by a federal grand jury and charged by the US Justice Department in July.

* Capt. John Cota, the pilot navigating the Cosco Busan at the time, also faces several criminal charges in connection with the spill.