Stranded Oil Barge near Bella Bella BC
Vancouver media Global News is reporting that a 420-foot oil barge, disconnected from its fuel tug, is sitting at anchor a little less than one kilometre from rocks that are part of the Goose Group Islands (near Bella Bella, BC).
The barge (Ziedell Marine 277) is carrying 3.5 million litres of diesel and 470,000 litres of gasoline.
This may not be as big news as it is if it wasn’t for gale force winds of 83 km/h that created waves as high as 3.7 metres battering the oil barge last night.
The Coast Guard and three tugs that were already in the area have offered assistance, and a rescue tug is on its way. So we may be lucky, this time.
The oil barge became stranded at 3:45 pm, and the Coast Guard vessel became in charge of the incident around 9:00 pm. That’s 5 hours, 45 minutes later.
The Georgia Strait reported that between 1999 and 2009, more than 1,200 vessel incidents were reported on the BC Coast, 12 involving oil tankers. From 1995-2008, 14 oil spills from tankers in Washington State released 13,709 gallons of oil. During the same period, 132 near-miss incidents also took place – had these resulted in worst case disasters, the amount of oil spilled would have been 2.7 billion gallons.
The Dogwood Foundation reported a year ago that the National Energy Board data show exports of bitumen to non-U.S. markets averaging just under 240,000 barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2015. That dropped below 83,000 barrels per day in the first three months of 2016.
In May 2017, The Globe reported that they joined a tugboat following the tanker Eser K, carrying more than 356,000 barrels of Alberta crude oil destined for California. The article gives an insider’s view of what happens on an accompanying tugboat as they go through the most hazardous stretch in B.C. waters.
Marine safety is taken seriously, but there is always the risk of a spill. Let’s hope that the Ziedell Marine 277 completes its journey without further incident. I will provide a comment below when we learn the completion of this incident.