Deep dredging

Found this in the morning news, the article below is from CTV news. The company has no news releases posted online, but it seems that east coast conglomerate, JD Irving, has lost a dredge barge, spilling some diesel fuel.

Well its a good thing this did not happen in BC, because the environmentalist would have a brick. They are still worked up about the fuel truck on a barge, that tipped over last year, spilling something like 10,000 liters of diesel in Johnstone Straight. That case, currently in court in Campbell River, is drawing some keen interest from many in the maritime industry, as its possibly going to be the first of its kind, regarding the recent coming into force of the Canada Shipping Act, and the Administrative Monetary Penalty scheme used in this type of prosecution.

Official Ship Number: 369850 (Transport Canada)
Owner: Atlantic Towing Limited
Operator: Harbour Development, A Division of Atlantic Towing Ltd.
Port of Registry: SAINT JOHN
Date of Registry: 1980/12/31
Usage: Dredge (Primary) Barge
Area of Service: East Coast
Gross Tonnage: 592 t
Net Tonnage: 480 t
Length: 42.66 m
Breadth: 15.23 m
Depth: 2.74 m

Here is a more factual account of the events. Picture above released by the Canadian Forces. The barge was towed by the Atlantic Larch, pictures below from shipspotting.

Fishermen warned to steer clear of sunken barge in N.S.
Updated Mon. Nov. 24 2008 5:25 PM ET, The Canadian Press

HALIFAX — On the first day of the fall season for Atlantic Canada’s biggest and most lucrative lobster fishery, federal officials warned Nova Scotia fishermen to stay away from an area where a dredging barge carrying 70,000 litres of diesel sank in rough seas on the weekend.

An emergency response team confirmed Monday that surveillance flights spotted a long, narrow slick of some kind of oily substance, but team members stressed that the volume probably amounted to less than four litres of light fuel.

“The amount of oil is very minimal at the surface,” said Roger Percy, a regional manager with Environment Canada. “The leakage rate is not very great.”

He said the barge may have sprung a slow leak, but he couldn’t say for sure.

Joe LeClair, a Canadian Coast Guard spokesman, said the slick was about 15 metres wide and about 1,600 metres long.

The federal Fisheries Department is warning lobster fishermen not to come within one kilometre of the site, about 80 kilometres southeast of Yarmouth, N.S.

There were no lobster boats nearby when the barge sank, but the site is at the edge of lobster fishing area 34, a zone where lobstermen usually head near the end of the season.

“The issue of concern was the opening of the lobster season — there’s a lot of fishermen in the area,” said Percy. “And we are monitoring in terms of other wildlife.”

The coast guard icebreaker Edward Cornwallis is also in the area and more surveillance flights are expected later this week.

The dredging barge, known as the Shovel Master, is resting on the ocean bottom, about 150 metres from the surface. At that depth, recovering the vessel or pumping out the oil would be a challenge, said LeClair.

However, the owners of the barge — a subsidiary of J.D. Irving Ltd. of New Brunswick — told officials that they haven’t ruled out any options, LeClair said.

The barge was under tow from Saint John, N.B., to Halifax last Wednesday when it ran into trouble. As it pitched and rolled in large swells, it was cut loose from its tow vessels.

At the time, winds were gusting at 83 kilometres per hour and wave heights reached three metres. Photos from the coast guard show the vessel getting swamped by heavy swells.

The 42-metre-long barge capsized Wednesday, but crew aboard three Atlantic Towing Ltd. tugs managed to secure the flipped craft.

However, it was cut loose again when it started sinking Saturday.

Transport Canada is investigating the circumstances surrounding the ill-fated voyage.

If federal officials determine there has been a significant spill, the coast guard and a private-sector company will begin a cleanup. The costs would be covered by the barge owner, Harbour Developments.

LeClair said the 70,000 litres of diesel aboard the vessel is a concern, but the amount is far less than what larger, ocean-going ships carry.

As well, a diesel spill of this size would cause less damage to the environment than a comparable spill of a heavier type of fuel oil, such as Bunker C or crude.

Diesel, like gasoline, tends to evaporate quickly once it rises to the surface.

“The good news is the diesel will dissipate in the water . . . which is good news from the point of environmental impact,” said LeClair, the coast guard’s superintendent of environmental response.

“The heavier the product, the more the impact to the environment because it becomes what we call a persistent oil — it stays around longer.”

LeClair said it was possible the barge could remain intact for decades to come, with little threat to the environment.

Officials said it would be misleading to compare the incident with the sinking and recovery of the Irving Whale, a barge that sank off the coast of P.E.I. in 1970.

That barge — also owned by the Irving group of companies — was actually a tanker, twice as long as the Shovel Master and carried 40 times the amount of fuel. As well, the Irving Whale was hauling Bunker C heavy oil when it went down.

“The amount of produce was vastly greater,” said LeClair.

The 80-metre long Irving Whale was lifted to the surface from 67 metres of water in 1996.

The Shovel Master, weighing in at 592 gross tonnes, also contains 1,100 litres of hydraulic oil and 750 litres of waste oil. Though these are heavier oils, the amounts are relatively small, LeClair added.

Response to the sinking is being handled by the Regional Environmental Emergencies Team, a federal-provincial body that includes representatives from Environment Canada, Transport Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the federal Fisheries Department and Nova Scotia’s Environment Department.

Meanwhile, Atlantic Towing Ltd. has hired Eastern Canada Response Corp. to handle cleanup operations.

Here’s another story from CP

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