Apr 09 2012

Tankers on the North Coast – NOT a good idea says retired tug operator

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There are a lot of problems with shipping crude oil on BC’s coast that we need to talked about. The inside passage is too narrow for shipping oil. Although Greenville Channel is a ferry route it’s not wide enough for oil tankers.

There are times that the tides in Greenville Channel will read a high of 5-7 knots, and that speed would make transport very difficult when passing another vessel be it a cruise ship or ferry or other smaller vessels.

It would be necessary for tankers to have a pilot on board, and they of course will do as they are told no matter what the circumstances, but remember the Exon Valdez? Pilot’s are no guarantee of safety.

If you go to Northword Magazine you will see claims of safety with the use of Tug boats. That makes no sense. Tugs are used to dock or un-dock a tanker, a common practice in any port, so that doesn’t need to be discussed unless there are special circumstances, so the idea that tugs make tankers safer is just plain misleading.

Tug escorts appear to be a smoke screen. The tankers wash would suck the tug under its hull at a speed of about 7 knots, so this idea seems misleading. Enbridge has no intention of assisting tankers from Kitimat to Prince Rupert, which is the most dangerous part of the tanker route, and I wonder why there is no mention of that.

Tugs don’t make a tanker safe unless that tanker is almost stopped and ready to drop anchor or be pushed up against a dock like in Vancouver, and that can take as many as 7-8 large tugs with immense horse power. It’s not economical.

On the promise to install radar – there is already Coastal Radar, ‘Tofino Traffic’.

As for using helicopters to land Pilots on tankers. apparently, they plan to fly the pilots from Vancouver to Kitimat, because of the high costs of opening another Pilotage in Kitimat. How is that for creating jobs? It’s absurd to even mention it.


This important information was sent to me as a comment by a retired BC Tug Boat operator. If you have comments I can connect you to the author.

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