Chilcotin Princess (2015)

LOCATION: Namu, British Columbia

Case number: 120-669-C1

The Incident
On January 30, 2015, the Chilcotin Princess, a 51-metre old steel vessel which had been moored alongside the old dock of the abandoned Namu cannery for more than 10 years, was listing at its berth at Namu, British Columbia. A portion of the dock collapsed, and the vessel was at risk of capsizing and causing oil pollution. The vessel owner was contacted by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Environmental Response personnel and issued a “Notice” requesting a plan to address the situation; however, no action was taken.

CCG assumed the role of On-Scene Commander and, on February 11, engaged a marine surveyor to examine the vessel. An imminent threat to the marine environment was noted due to the deteriorated condition of the hull. Therefore, having concluded that towing the vessel to a properly equipped oil removal facility would be unsafe, the surveyor recommended that oil on board be removed at the vessel’s location. The oil removal operation lasted five days and involved CCG crews and equipment, the CCGS Bartlett and a support platform from Wainwright Marine Services.

Measures taken by the Administrator
The Administrator hired a marine expert to review the survey report submitted by the marine surveyor engaged by CCG in February 2015. The expert agreed with CCG surveyor’s recommendation to remove pollutants from the vessel.

Furthermore, on July 27, 2015, upon receipt of the information from CCG that the Chilcotin Princess was being deconstructed by Wainwright Marine Services in Prince Rupert, with the Province of British Columbia (Province) as lead, the Administrator engaged a marine technical surveyor to attend the shipyard and monitor the deconstruction. The deconstruction process was halted by the finding of asbestos material on board. After the asbestos issue was resolved, a scrap contractor was engaged to proceed with the final demolition. The Chilcotin Princess was deconstructed in November 2015.

The Claim
On September 19, 2016, the Administrator received a claim from CCG, on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG), made pursuant to the Marine Liability Act, in the amount of $137,680.88.

The Administrator determined that the claim was admissible under part 7 of the Act.

Assessment and Offer
After investigation and assessment of the claim, on November 2, 2016, the Administrator made an offer to DFO/CCG for the established amount of $137,680.88 plus interest, as full and final settlement. The offer was accepted on November 14, 2016 and a payment of $144,794.66 including interest was made to DFO/CCG on or about November 16, 2016.

Recovery Action
In December 2016, the Administrator tasked a professional locator service to complete a locate and asset search on the vessel owner. Additionally, a demand letter was sent to the owner, but no response was received. However, it appeared that the registered owner, Intercoast Towing Ltd., a provincially incorporated company, had been dissolved prior to the incident, as a result of not filing corporate reports in the prior two years.

On February 1, 2017, it was decided that a recourse action would be taken against the Province since it had become owner of the Chilcotin Princess, further to the dissolution of its registered owner. A demand letter was sent to the Province, to which a response denying liability for the claim was received on March 7.

The court was to decide on the issue of retroactivity in the reinstatement of Intercoast Towing Ltd. On March 31, 2018, the case was pending before the court.

The file remains open.