OTTAWA, Oct. 17, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, issued this statement today regarding the incident involving the tug, Nathan E. Stewart, and DBL55 barge that occurred in the Seaforth Channel, British Columbia:
"Our government's first priority is the safety and protection of the public and the environment. This is why we are working in close collaboration with the Canadian Coast Guard, the Province of British Columbia, the community of Bella Bella, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation and the Heiltsuk Nation in order to:
- Support the immediate containment activities led by the Canadian Coast Guard;
- Coordinate the ongoing salvage operation;
- Assist affected communities not only during, but following the end of response operations.
"We are cooperating with the Transportation Safety Board and I have appointed a Minister's Observer who will keep me informed of their progress so that my department can be ready to take quick action should any early findings be identified to improve safety.
"I want to thank the first responders, the Bella Bella Community and the Heiltsuk Nation who acted quickly to minimize the damages caused by this incident, as their efforts certainly made a difference.
"Communities affected should know that the Government of Canada takes this incident very seriously, and will not hesitate to take appropriate action should there be any evidence of non-compliance.
"We are also reviewing and will approve any towing plans put forward by the owner to return the empty barge to the U.S. and will review the salvage plan for the tug with Canadian Coast Guard. Furthermore, the exemption that allowed the tug, Nathan E. Stewart, and barge to operate in the Seaforth Channel without a pilot from the Pacific Pilotage Authority onboard has been revoked. Such exemptions have been revoked for all vessels operated by the company.
"Improving marine safety is a key part of my mandate as Minister of Transport and I take this situation very seriously. The Nathan E. Stewart incident underlines the need for changes in the way we respond to marine pollution incidents, and that is why I am currently working on a coastal strategy to improve marine safety in a meaningful way."
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SOURCE Transport Canada
For further information: Delphine Denis, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, Delphine.Denis@tc.gc.ca, 613-991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055