Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Who Is Addressing the Threat Posed to the BC Coast by the Nathan E Stewart

The Nathan E Stewart 10,000-ton pusher tug/tanker that plies our coast

by Ingmar Lee

Friends. Currently, the NYC-registered pusher-tug, Nathan E Stewart and its 10,000-capacity barge are moored at Burnaby Mountain, - at the Kinder Morgan terminal, where it is loading up for its voyage north. The barge/tug combo was anchored near 2nd Narrows for the past few days, and has now moved to the terminal. I expect it to head north soon.

Following are links I have compiled that will familiarize you with the enormity of the risk this vessel poses, and its regular schedule through these, our waters.

Over the past few years I have been tracking the New York City-registered tugboat Nathan E Stewart and its two 300-ft 10,000 ton capacity petroleum-tanker barges, DBL 54, and DBL55 which currently run a regular scheduled traffic, directly past Bella Bella, and on through BC's protected Inside Passage and Great Bear Rainforest. (It only runs one barge at a time, but I have seen it pushing each of these barges)

This "pusher tug/barge combo" (the tug fits into a deep notch built into the stern of the tanker, from where it pushes the barge along) departs loaded several times a month, from either Everett, or Anacortes Washington,or Burnaby Mountain, Vancouver, and then heads up through Georgia Strait, often through Sabine Channel, through Johnstone Strait, Fitz Hugh, right past Bella Bella, and on up to Alaska. I've also tracked it down to Portland Oregon, where its 2 barges, DBL 54, and DBL 55, are registered.

As far as I am aware, this is, by far, the largest, - and the only foreign petroleum tanker that is plying the protected waters of our coast.

The Nathan E Stewart and its barges are owned by Texas-based Kirby Corporation. The Kirby Corporation "is the premier tank barge operator in the United States, transporting bulk liquid products throughout the Mississippi River System, on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, along all three U.S. Coasts, and in Alaska (my emphasis, - doesn't mention going through BC to get there) and Hawaii. Kirby's service includes the transporting of petrochemicals, black oil, refined petroleum products and agricultural chemical products by tank barge."

Last March, 2014, a day before the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdes disaster, a similar pusher tug/barge combo, also owned by Kirby Corp, crashed into a container ship at the entrance to Galveston Bay, Texas and sank, spewing 200,000 gallons of oil into the bay, creating a 12 mile slick.

In December, 2011, the Nathan E Stewart and its barge ran into a heavy storm off Cape Fairweather Alaska. Thirty foot seas flooded both engines rendering the ship out of control and dead in the water. It drifted for hours before being rescued by the US Coast Guard and towed. You can view harrowing video footage from the bridge of the Nathan E Stewart during the height of the storm here.

I believe that it is no coincidence that BC's "World-Class" Oil Spill Response service , the "Western Canada Marine Response Corporation" (WCMRC), which has a monopoly mandate for the entire BC coast, as the sole enterprise responsible for oil disasters, is tasked to be able to respond to a 10,000 ton spill, -exactly the capacity of DBL 55.

WCMRC is owned by tar-sands producers, Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Chevron and Suncor.

You can track the Nathan E Stewart to a certain extent on it regular course between Puget Sound, Washington and Alaska via the AIS Shiptracker website, http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ but AIS-equipped ships go out of range past Pine Island, then appear again at Bella Bella, where there is an AIS repeater and then disappear again until Rupert. PacificWild has installed an AIS receiver at the top of the mountain behind Bella Bella, but it is currently out of commission. There is virtually no AIS service between Bella Bella and Prince Rupert.

We require answers to the following questions:

What permit allows the Nathan E Stewart and it's oil-tanker barge, DBL55 to ply the BC coast via the Inside Passage?

Who owns it?

Who does it work for?

Who issued it?

Is there a signature?

When was the permit issued?

What fees are involved?

What remuneration to the People of Canada?

~and of course any other pertinent information that may come out.

I believe this 10,000-ton oil-tanker offers nothing but inevitable disaster for our coast.

Cheers, and Best Wishes!! Ingmar

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