Silver King (2014)

LOCATION: Deep Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island

Case number: 120-660

On June 23, 2014, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Western Region, informed the Administrator that it was aware of an abandoned derelict tug near a sensitive fishing area in Deep Bay on the east coast of Vancouver Island. The CCG was hiring a surveyor of McAllister Marine Survey and Design Ltd. to inspect the old tug and offer an opinion as to whether there existed a significant or imminent oil pollution threat to the environment.

Upon receiving the report, the Administrator arranged through counsel – without prejudice to his obligations under the Marine Liability Act (MLA) – for a technical surveyor to jointly survey the vessel along with the Coast Guard contractor. The surveyors reported that the vessel contained approximately 2,323 litres of oil and 4,586 litres of oily water in accessible areas. These amounts did not include oils in other areas, such as double bottom fuel tanks. In addition, it was determined that the hull was in a precarious condition and in danger of sinking. It was the opinion of both surveyors that the Silver King posed a significant and imminent threat to the environment, due to its deteriorated condition in a sensitive area. Consequently, it was recommended that in order to remove the hydrocarbons, the old tug – built in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1945 for service in the United States Navy – should be moved to a nearby suitable dock as soon as possible. The action would avoid the additional costs of utilizing a tug and barge as a working platform and then transferring the hydrocarbons and equipment ashore.

Later, the CCG provided the Administrator a copy of its own surveyor’s report, which recommended the deconstruction of the Silver King. The surveyor engaged by counsel, however, recommended that before carrying out the demolition, alternative quotes should be obtained for cleaning the vessel to a reasonable standard that will not cause damage to the environment should the old tug sink.

On December 16, 2014, Coast Guard advised in its latest update to the Administrator that quotes were solicited from several hazardous waste service providers for the option of in situ cleaning. In addition, Public Works and Government Services were engaged to administer the process of soliciting bids for the removal of the vessel. On June 24, 2015, counsel requested that Coast Guard report on the status of the Silver King. Coast Guard advised by e-mail that “there is no further update at this time”. In the meantime, no claim has been filed with the Fund; therefore, at the end of the current fiscal year, the file remains open.