Case number: 120-629
This claim involves a 37-foot wooden hull ex-fishing vessel, Mikon, that sank at its moorings and caused oil pollution in Port Browning, Pender Island, British Columbia. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) received a report of the incident on March 2, 2013, and deployed a crew from the Ganges lifeboat station to investigate. They found both diesel and hydraulic oils being discharged from the sunken wreck. The lifeboat crew requested the owner to advise before noon on March 3 what his plans, if any, were to take appropriate measures for control of the situation. The owner acknowledged that he did not have the financial means to raise the wreck and prevent further pollution.
On March 7, 2013, the CCG engaged Public Works and Government Services Canada to solicit bids for a contractor to remove the Mikon. A contract was awarded to Saltair Marine Services Ltd., to refloat and stream a containment boom and sorbent material, which was supplied by the Pender Island Fire Department, as a measure to minimize the oil pollution damage caused by the upwelling of oil. The volume of diesel and other oils on board the wreck was unknown. On March 13, the contractor deployed a tug and barge loaded with oil pollution containment and clean-up equipment, including a 45-tonne crane. Lifting lines were secured to the bow and stern and the vessel was lifted to the surface. When stabilized, it was towed to the Saltair Marine facility in Ladysmith Harbour, where it was placed onto a concrete containment pad with a catch basin for any seeping oils.
An independent technical marine surveyor from the firm of Coastal Marine Surveys was hired by CCG to determine the condition and provide an evaluation of the wooden hull vessel. The surveyor reported that there was oil contamination throughout the interior which damaged all mechanical systems that were emerged under sea water. The planking at the stem had separated, leaving openings in the hull. The rest of the vessel had strained with broken planking. In short, the wreck had no salvage value. Photographs were submitted with the surveyor’s findings. As a result, by March 20, the vessel was deconstructed and all the debris and oil was cleaned up for disposal.
On December 16, 2014, the Administrator received a claim from Coast Guard, on behalf of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO/CCG), for costs and expenses in the amount of $41,451.84, pursuant to the Marine Liability Act (MLA).
The Administrator commenced an investigation and assessment of the claim documentation. The investigation confirmed that, at the time of the incident, Coast Guard personnel became aware there was no insurance coverage for the vessel. Further, the legal ownership of the vessel was in question and that the possible owners had said they lacked the resources to respond. Therefore, CCG took the necessary measures to address the pollution threat in a timely manner. Upon completion of the investigation and assessment of this claim, the Administrator found the amount of $40,351.84 to be established. The contract charge of $1,100.00 for additional insurance coverage incurred by the engaged salvage company was not accepted.
On March 25, 2015, an offer was made to DFO/CCG for the amount of $40,351.84, plus interest, as full and final settlement pursuant to the MLA . The offer was made conditional on the Administrator receiving with Coast Guard’s notification of acceptance of the offer, the return of the enclosed Release and Subrogation Agreement duly executed.
On April 29, 2015, a letter of acceptance of the offer was received; however, it did not include the requested Release and Subrogation Agreement. Coast Guard advised that the Commissioner was seeking advice from DFO Legal Services with regard to the Agreement. Coast Guard was then informed that pending resolution of this issue, the Administrator has not requisitioned payment.
On August 25, 2016, the Fund paid the Department of Fisheries and Oceans $44,595.50 for costs and expenses incurred by Coast Guard while responding to this incident. The Administrator after careful consideration of the facts, and recognizing the time bar status for recourse action decided on September 28, 2016 to close the file.