June 9, 2021
Nootka Sound, British Columbia – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canada’s oceans and waterways, and is taking action to address the threat posed by wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels, including the MV Schiedyk, a historic shipwreck leaking oil off the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the award of a $5.7 million emergency contract to Resolve Marine Group of Fort Lauderdale, Florida to remove bulk fuel from the MV Schiedyk. The recent results of a technical assessment determined that immediate action to remove bulk fuel is necessary to protect Nootka Sound, an area rich in natural beauty, history, culture, wildlife, and in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.
In the fall of 2020, the shipwreck was confirmed to be the source of several reports of visible sheen on the surface of the water in Zuciarte Channel, near Bligh Island in Nootka Sound. Since then, the Canadian Coast Guard, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation have been jointly leading a virtual Incident Command Post to manage the response to reduce oil on the water and protect the environment.
The technical assessment found two tanks containing heavy fuel oil, one tank with marine diesel oil, and one tank with mixed oil product on board the vessel. The amount of fuel is estimated to be approximately 147 cubic metres based on the total volume of the tanks, however that amount may be less if the internal tank walls have been compressed.
Resolve Marine will use a process called “hot tapping” to reduce the volume of fuel in the tanks. This process involves drilling a hole in the fuel tank from the outside, attaching a drainage valve, and pumping the fuel out of the tank through a hose attached to the valve. The hot-tap method has been used successfully on shipwrecks for many years, including in the case of the Manolis L in Atlantic Canada in 2018. Given the nature of the operation, there is a small risk of a larger release of oil. Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response crews are prepared to address this should it arise, and will continue to be on-site and ready to respond if necessary.
Work is scheduled to begin in mid-June and is expected to take several weeks.