Excavator removed from listing barge

An excavator was removed from a listing barge in the Selkirk waterway in Victoria Sunday as the vessel was prepared to be moved to Point Hope Shipyard for inspection.

Experts will examine why the barge, owned by Seaspan, tilted Friday, sending as many as 100 flattened cars, hot water tanks and other scrap metal into the waterway. No one was injured in the incident.

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The barge was being operated by Schnitzer Steel, a scrap-metal recycling company in the Rock Bay area.

The inspection at Point Hope, 345 Harbour Road, won’t assess the loading of the barge that took place Friday before the accident, but rather the integrity of the barge itself.

“I think the fact that we are focussed in on the barge would tend to indicate that’s where we think the problem was,” said Schnitzer spokesman Mike Geoghegan, Sunday.

The company found at fault will be responsible for the environmental clean-up, which in the short term includes removing the cars in the water, according to the environment ministry.

On Saturday, Seaspan directed media inquiries to Schnitzer.

Asked what has been discovered to indicate the barge as a key focus, Geoghegan said he shouldn’t speculate.

“At this point I have not received any information that indicates what the cause was. I do know that is one of the key focuses in terms of the investigation,” Geoghegan said.

Geoghegan said security cameras would capture some of what happened on Friday, including the loading of the barge, so that footage and other information could be analyzed.

“The whole idea here is to ensure this doesn’t happen again, so we want to be really clear what the reasons were for the cause,” Geoghegan said.

“We’re not leaving any stone unturned in terms of finding out what the cause is,” Geoghegan added.

A Salish Sea Industrial Services crane is unloading metal from the listing barge until it is re-balanced.

Once that is done, the remaining load will be secured to the barge and it will be prepared for movement to Point Hope on Harbour Road.

The barge was close to being level Sunday morning, Geoghegan said.

“All environmental controls remain in place — we have contracted experts who are continuing to monitor conditions around the work site and clean up any debris and contaminants as safety permits,” Geoghegan said, in an email.

“We had a Seaspan tug on standby through the night to keep an eye on the barge,” his email read. “We also ensured that there was security at the yard and environmental controls and containment in place.”

Investigations are underway by WorkSafe B.C., Transport Canada and the Ministry of Environment.

WorkSafe B.C. has issued a stop-work order to Schnitzer.


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