Chaulk Determination (2015) (Trois-Rivières Port Authority)

LOCATION: Port of Trois-Rivières, Quebec

Case number: 120-700-C1

The Incident
The Chaulk Determination was an ocean-going tug of 566 gross tonnes owned by CAI Marine Inc. On December 26, 2014, the vessel sank at Section 1 of the Port of Trois-Rivières with 22 tonnes of pollutants on board. The owner was contacted and was unable to respond. Group Ocean was contracted by the Coast Guard to raise the vessel and on February 19, they commenced raising the vessel and completed the operation on February 21, 2015. Coast Guard took steps during the months of February/March 2015 to winterize the vessel and ensure that it was safe and secure at the port prior to turning the vessel over to the port authority. The port noted that the vessel was substantially contaminated with oil/residue at the time of turnover and that it presented a risk of pollution. These views were communicated to both Transport Canada and the Coast Guard.

In April of 2015, the vessel began to take on water. The Port of Trois-Rivières observed on April 16, 2015, that the refloated tug was listing and concluded after investigation that the vessel was again at risk of sinking and was a pollution threat. A marine surveyor was engaged by the port to provide a condition report on the state of the vessel when it was turned over to the port by Coast Guard. The local fire department evaluated the hazardous condition of the vessel and asked for the removal of all combustible and waste materials and noted the need for ongoing 24/7 monitoring. The port authority concluded that the tug presented an ongoing risk of pollution and that it was necessary to both remove and dismantle the vessel.

Contractors were engaged the following week to address the list problem, to dewater the vessel, to clean the internals of the vessel and to remove pollutants from the ship. Fuel tanks had been used as ballast tanks after the refloating of the tug, resulting in a significant amount of fuel residue mixed with ballast water. It was necessary to clean all ballast water tanks, fuel and lube oil tanks and accommodation spaces, and engine room spaces.

The Claim
On October 20, 2015, the port authority filed a claim with the Fund for costs and expenses incurred responding to the pollution threat of the tug, in the amount of $71,909.71 made pursuant to articles 101 and 103 Marine Liability Act. The Administrator commenced an investigation and assessment of the claim and requested further documentation from the port in support of their claim. The port provided the amplifying information on January 13, 2016.

On February 2, 2017, the Administrator made an offer for the established amount of $71,909.71 minus the amount of $1,277.13 that the Port had received from the Federal Court. The offer was accepted by Counsel for the Port on February 7, 2017, and a payment of $73,848.78 including interest was made to the Port.

Recovery Action
The Fund had filed a claim in the judicial sale of Chaulk Lifter, a sister ship, which had been arrested and sold by Verreault Navigation Inc. for unrelated debts. The Fund received $45,184.44 as per the Federal Court decision issued on November 17, 2016 (2016 FC 1281).

Considering the lack of assets and the amount of liabilities of the owners, the Administrator assessed that it would not be reasonable to dedicate additional resources to recovery action, and closed the file on March 31, 2017.

Related file
Chaulk Determination (2014) (CCG Claim), Case number: 120-667-C1 (same owner, same series of incidents)