Friday, October 02, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Thursday, October 1, 2009

A freighter suffers damage near Kitimat and the event is used as an active warning as to the dangers of oil and gas tanker traffic, with the Kitimat incident fresh in our minds, a timely review of a recent Marine Environment exercise held in Prince Rupert and Lax Kw'alaams is looking forward to negotiating with the City of Prince Rupert over Watson Island

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT, DAMAGED FREIGHTER FEEDS PROTESTS-- A Marine incident near Kitimat is hammering home for many the dangers of coastal transportation and serving as a warning for some of the potential dangers that could come our way should oil and gas tankers soon begin to make their calls at Northwest ports (Daily News Archive story )

Negotiations could soon show some success as Lax Kw'alaams finds the prospect of negotiating the fate of Watson Island with the City of Prince Rupert much preferable to recent dealings with the Sun Wave group. With Tree Farm and Forestry Licences in play, Lax Kw'alaams is looking at its options for development of the old Skeena Cel site to make use of their resources. (Daily News Archive Article )

Troubled times apparently make for interesting political arrangements, NDP MP Nathan Cullen outlines why the NDP has chosen to support the Conservative government during recent non confidence motions in the House of Commons (Daily News article not posted)

School District 52 outlined the enrollment numbers for 2009-10 and what effect those numbers may have on future employment options in the local schools (Daily News Archive Article)

The Sports section featured some Mom's taking part in Aqua fit with Babies, a preview of the Pewee A hockey season and the launch of the annual Thursday feature Rupert Hoop Dreams, which features a variety of reports on the different levels of basketball being played in the city.

Northern View, Web Extra
First Nations, politicians and Enbridge respond to accident in Douglas Channel-- The Northern View outlines details and reaction to the marine incident near Kitimat earlier this week (see story here)

CBC Northern British Columbia, Daybreak North
Spill drill in Prince Rupert-- The recent exercise in marine environmental reaction was featured with a report as part of the Thursday broadcast (listen to report here)

Daily News, Front page headline story-
Too Close for Comfort, Damaged Freighter feeds Protests--
By George T. Baker

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Thursday, October 1, 2009

A cargo vessel traveling through the Douglas Channel was involved in a crash last Friday.

This was confirmed by Transport Canada, although there has been no official report released.

The vessel ran aground southwest of Kitimat and returned to the Northwest city immediately after it was determined that there was no pollution or leaks associated with the ship's

"A dive team has assessed the damage on the ship and Transport Canada has inspected the vessel,' confirmed Transport Canada communications officer, Rod Nelson.

Nelson said that the federal Transportation Safety Board would be investigating the accident to search for any violations to the Canada Marine Act. The Petersfield has been cleared to sail to Vancouver for repairs by the federal department because it is considered safe to do so. It has a speed restriction and will be accompanied by a tugboat escort.

Once in Vancouver, marine inspectors will investigate the ship to determine if it's seaworthy to operate normally at full speed. The most visible damage associated with the accident was to the ship's bow, which was scrunched up near the bottom of the vessel. However, the incident is also being pounced upon as a point of reference for those that oppose oil tanker traffic on the North Coast.

Projects proposed for Kitimat port, to bring bitumen oil to the North Coast from Alberta, have received less than favorable public opinion returns from First Nations communities and others. Gerald Amos is a Kitimaat Village Councillor for the Haisla Nation. He said that regardless of the amount of incidents that occur in the channel, the Petersfield incident proved that navigating through the waters was not only a challenge, but irresponsible as well.

"Whether or not it is a freak occurrence or not, the point is that it happens," said Amos who is also a former fisherman and Friends of Wild Salmon.

"Human error and mechanical failure happen on all boats - it's happened on my gillnetter."
Skeena-Bulkey MP Nathan Cullen echoed Amos' sentiments that these accidents happen and that it was risk British Columbians do not want to take. He suggested that the North Coast had dodged a bullet.

"This is why we believe that a public inquiry needs to be called on oil traffic on the coast," said Cullen.

"The Conservatives want to rubber stamp this. The provincial government is saying that they are the ones that are going to make oil drilling and tankers a reality. There is no chance that we are going to get a fair hearing with the way the process is right now."

Amos claimed that the Kitimaat Village council had been told that it was a catastrophic failure of the steering system, but this has not been confirmed.

At the time of the incident, according to Nelson, the ship was carrying lumber products, but none of the products had spilled into the channel, nor were any leaks found.

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