After spending almost six days grounded just off Quadra Island, the Nana Provider was refloated and moved to Duncan Bay Marine Terminal late last week and Transportation Safety Board has now begun an investigation into what caused the incident.
The barge ran aground Nov. 9 and it took until Nov. 15 for conditions to be met and a plan to be in place before it could be moved. The move then came somewhat as a surprise, as just the day before the Mirror was told by Transport Canada that the salvage contractor for the process was still “developing their plan,” and it was unlikely that the barge would be moved before the weekend, but then on Friday morning, a statement went out saying, in part, “Salvage operations took place this morning and the barge is now secured in Duncan Bay and will undergo further assessment and repair. The operation went smoothly.”
The removal comes as a relief to Area C director Jim Abram, who had expressed concern about the expected weather over the next few days.
“The tides were not optimal for them to remove it, and we were supposed to be having 30-knot southeast winds today and then 40-knot southeast winds tomorrow, so when I heard that they probably wouldn’t be moving it until the weekend, that made me concerned that it would have to ride out two significant storms,” Abram says. “Something that big rising and falling on a rock is not a good thing.”
So when he heard that it had been moved, he breathed a sigh of relief.
“Now that it’s been moved to a facility where they can do a proper assessment and hopefully a proper repair makes me feel really good,” he says. “I’m extremely relieved that we didn’t have the catastrophe we could have had, the environment is safe, people are safe, the people who live along the shoreline can now enjoy their view again, the sea lions can go back to diving on their favourite rock and everything is just ducky.”
But that’s just this time, Abram says. Who knows when it might happen again, and with much more dire consequences.
“This was a wake-up call to the people on the inside passage,” he says. “Everybody thinks we’re invulnerable, but we’re clearly not. It was just proven to us. We watch these barges go by us every day – there’s been something like 10,000 of them over the past number of years – with no problem, but this one had a problem.
“Had it been loaded with rail cars containing toxic chemicals, chlorine gas, whatever, we may have had a serious issue on the shoreline of Quadra Island or the shoreline of Campbell River, with a whole lot more people impacted.”
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) also announced Friday that they have deployed a team of investigators to “gather information and assess the occurrence.”
According to Chris Krepski, spokesperson for the TSB, says investigations of this kind can be complex, and they won’t know how long it will take until their preliminary work is done on the site and with the vessels in question.
“The idea is to find what the cause and contributing factors to the crash were, identify any safety deficiencies and communicate those safety deficiencies to those who can make changes for the better,” Krepski says.
The investigators will start by examining the vessel – vessels, in this case, as the barge was being towed by a tug – interviewing witnesses and analyze navigational equipment data.
“At this stage, it’s really just about gathering information,” Krepski says. “We’re not sure at this point what level of investigation we’re going to be doing on this one.
“We’ll assess the information we receive and then gauge what our next steps are going to be.”
A report will be made available by the TSB once the investigation concludes.