On Tuesday, NDP Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns toured the site in Deep Bay where two derelict vessels sank in recent days, as reported in The Comox Valley Record.
Another abandoned vessel, a 100-foot tug named Silver King, has taken on water and poses a serious threat to the local economy and environment.
“I invite government officials to come here and see it for themselves,” said Johns, “We need immediate action to safely remove the Silver King before it’s too late.”
The community has been warned that if the Silver King sinks the subsequent spill could shut down the local shellfish industry and disrupt the adjacent Vancouver Island University facility, resulting in 60 job losses. The effect on vegetation and wildlife would also be devastating.
Previous owner Dan Grinstead of Seattle of the tug which sank – the Lorna Foss – said he sold the vessel to a Bowser resident in September 2013. Calls to the alleged owner were not returned.
There is no vessel registered under the name Lorna Foss in a vessel registration search for the Lorna Foss through Transport Canada.
Coastal communities are frequently faced with abandoned and derelict vessels that wash ashore or sink in shallow waters and introduce dangerous materials into the environment. Current rules in place for removing these vessels are extremely complex and cross jurisdictions.
“This is the result of an overly complicated system that passes the buck and points the finger at the other guys,” said Johns. “Enough is enough. Let’s deal with what’s in front of us and make sure we have a better system going forward.”
Johns is the seconder of Bill C-219 which has been tabled in the House of Commons. The NDP bill would designate the Coast Guard as the receiver of wrecks and give them a free hand to take action. It would also compel government to create stronger regulations for the safe removal or destruction of abandoned and derelict vessels.