MacEachern’s Point (2014)

LOCATION: MacEachern’s Point Wharf in Tabusintac, New Brunswick

Case number: 120-651

On May 5, 2013, a fire occurred at the MacEachern’s Point Wharf in Tabusintac, New Brunswick. The fire destroyed the upper structure of five fishing vessels and they sank alongside their mooring docks. Each vessel contained approximately 150 gallons of fuel oil, plus a quantity of lube and hydraulic oils. The sinking of the vessels caused an upwelling of oil on the surface of the water.

The Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response (CCG ER) personnel based at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, proceeded to the site and took appropriate action to mitigate the extent of oil pollution. Upon arrival, it was found that the RCMP was conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire. In addition, the Small Craft Harbour Authority was arranging to remove the sunken fishing vessels; however, they were not prepared to remove the oil products and contaminated debris. On May 6, the RCMP released the scene and CCG personnel commenced removal of the debris and pollution in conjunction with the operations of the Small Craft Harbour Authority to raise the five sunken vessels. CCG engaged a local contractor, Sutherland Excavating Ltd., to clean up the site and dispose of the contaminated materials.

On March 27, 2014, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG) filed a claim with the Administrator in the amount of $55,937.21 pursuant to the Marine Liability Act (MLA) for costs and expenses incurred during response to the incident.

The Administrator commenced an investigation and assessment of the claim. There was significant delay in obtaining from Coast Guard the necessary substantiating documentation to assess the merits of the claim. However, on January 15, 2015, the Administrator was in a position to make an offer to DFO/CCG for the established amount of $55,200.68, plus interest, as full and final settlement pursuant to the MLA. The offer was made conditional upon execution of an attached Release and Subrogation Agreement.

On March 10, 2015, the Administrator received a letter from Coast Guard accepting the offer of settlement, but it did not include the Release and Subrogation Agreement duly executed as requested. The Administrator informed the Coast Guard that he would not be requisitioning payment of this claim pending resolution of the issues concerning the execution of Release and Subrogation Agreements by the Canadian Coast Guard.

In August of 2016, the Administrator paid the Department of Fisheries and Oceans $60,497.28 including interest for their claim. On August 10, 2016 the Administrator noted that a responsible party had not been identified during the assessment and investigation of this claim. She concluded that all reasonable measures to recover the amount of the payment had been taken and subsequently closed the file.