Do we really want gargantuan Kirby Corp tankers like the "Dublin Sea" transporting bitumen around the Salish Sea!?
by Ingmar Lee - 10,000 Ton Tanker
November 5, 2016
Although Kirby is now banned from the BC Inside Passage, pending TSB investigations of their "Nathan E Stewart" disaster, Kirby Corp continues to do business as usual in Canadian Salish Sea waters.
Pacific Pilotage Authority CEO, Captain Kevin Obermeyer has told me that currently, the Texas-based Kirby Corporation has had its "special waivers" revoked, and is now forbidden to continue its tanker business up the BC Inside Passage to Alaska. Pending the outcome of Transportation Safety Board investigations of the wreck of its vessel, the "Nathan E Stewart," Kirby Corp will not be allowed in these waters.
HOWEVER, the Kirby Corporation is welcome, and continues to ply Canadian waters in the Salish Sea, where it runs much more massive "Articulated Tanker Barge (ATB's) such as the "Dublin Sea" and its massive barge, - which dwarfs DBL 55, the 10,000 ton capacity barge of the Nathan E Stewart. (DBL 55 suffered extensive underwater damage during the Nathan E Stewart incident, and is currently being rebuilt at the Seaspan drydock in Vancouver) Dublin Sea plies between Burnaby's Kinder Morgan bitumen spigot and the giant Tesoro refinery at Anacortes.
Astoundingly, it is difficult to learn what-all petroleum product the Dublin Sea is loading at Kinder Morgan and then taking to be refined at Anacortes, because even Captain Obermeyer does not know. If British Columbia's most senior Shipping Master wants to know what the Dublin Sea is carrying, he must call, on bended knee, down to Texas and ask the Kirby Corporation. And after a 3 week wait, they will tell him. (I know this because I asked Obermeyer last year what the Kirby vessels were carrying up the BC coast, - he didn't know, and had to ask Kirby, and they took 3 weeks to get back to him)
I expect that the Dublin Sea is loading bitumen from Kinder Morgan's Burnaby spigot, which it then transports right through the very busy Port Metro Vancouver harbour, and then on through endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale habitat, to the Tesoro refinery.
When I asked Obermeyer why the Kirby Corp was being allowed to run these massive tankers, -I'm estimating Dublin Sea's barge to be 700 ft long- even while the corporations boats are banned from the BC Inside Passage, his reply was, "..the Kirby vessels plying our southern waters don't get any "special waivers..." - which means they must have Canadian Pilots on board. Well folks, the good Captain's answer was, - shall we be kind?- perhaps a bit disingenuous because: even prior to the Nathan E Stewart disaster, ATB vessels as massive as Dublin Sea, were ALREADY REQUIRED to have Canadian Pilots!
So, just looking at the photos of this monster, the Dublin Sea, folks, just imagine if you will, as they navigate through the busy waters of the southern Salish Sea, what is the quality of the helmsperson's field of vision and line of sight, from the wheelhouse all the way in the stern, to see over the bow of the tanker?! To my way of thinking, that person would be unable to see much of anything at all up to at least half a mile ahead of the ship...
Do we really want monsters like the Texas-based Kirby Corporation's "Dublin Sea," loaded to the gunwales with tar-sands dirty-oil bitumen plying through our busy southern waters!?