Using powers granted under the Environmental Management Act, Environment Minister Terry Lake has issued an environmental emergency declaration to mobilize resources and equipment to deal as soon as possible with improperly secured vessels on a property along the Fraser River near Mission.
The former Queen of Sidney and six other derelict vessels in the same location represent a significant risk to public safety, critical infrastructure and the environment if they were to break free due to the current high water conditions.
A qualified marine expert has determined that the moored vessels are at risk of breaking free of their moorings due to their general poor condition and the high river flows and flood-related debris that could place additional strain on the mooring lines.
B.C.'s emergency response staff identified significant risks to river traffic, houseboat residents, and critical downstream infrastructure including rail and highway bridges and other utilities alongside or crossing the Fraser.
The vessels also pose an environmental risk due to the potential presence of hazardous materials, physical damage to downstream habitat and risk of secondary spills from collisions with vessels or infrastructure.
Provincial emergency response staff are working with the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada who have responsibilities for ship-source spills and shipping and navigation matters, and all parties will continue to work together to address the situation.
The ministry will pursue cost recovery for any and all expenses incurred addressing the hazards posed by the situation.
Ministry of Environment