Silver King (2014)

LOCATION: Deep Bay, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Case number: 120-660-C1

The Incident
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 would not cause damage to the environment should the old tug sink. On December 16, 2014, Coast Guard advised 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. In June 2015, Coast Guard reported that there was no further update at that time.

On April 6, 2016, CCG personnel returned to the Silver King in the company of a marine surveyor; water ingress was observed and pumping operations were undertaken. The CCG decided to have the vessel towed to Ladysmith, B.C., for scrapping.

By April 10, 2016, the CCG had awarded the salvage and deconstruction of the Silver King to Saltair who moved the vessel to Ladysmith on that day. Deconstruction work concluded June 15, 2016. On July 26, 2016, the CCG informed the Administrator that the Silver King had been dismantled and that they were preparing a claim for this incident.

Measures taken by the Administrator
As reported above, upon receiving the initial incident report from the CCG, the Administrator retained counsel and 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.

On December 5, 2016, a review of the incident file confirmed that all pollutants remained on board the vessel and did not enter the surrounding environment.

The Claim
On October 31, 2017, the Administrator received a claim from the CCG on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG) for costs and expenses in the amount of $338,379.18, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act.

The Administrator determined that the claim was admissible under Part 7 of the Act. Since no spill had occurred, the five-year limitation applied.

On March 31, 2018, the letter of offer was being finalized by the Administrator and was about to be sent. An investigation of the owner had been carried out.

The file remains open.