You’ve heard of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tankers project. But you may not know that there is another threat to the Pacific Coast, not from tankers but from smaller vessels known as ATBs: articulated tug barges. These rivergoing vessels are being used to tranport millions of litres of refined petroleum products, diesel, and gas through the Salish Sea and along the Pacific Coast to Alaska.
On both sides of the border, we’re joining forces to defend #onecoast and make shipping safe.
One Coast is an alliance of organizations and concerned citizens throughout Cascadia/the Pacific Coast. We are working together to press for safer shipping to protect the economies, cultures and communities who rely on a clean coast.
Reports & Latest News
Semi-related from Globe & Mail on WA oil spill response: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/british-columbia/article-canadas-pipeline-spill-plans-criticized-by-washington-state-after/
In this video, meet Fred Felleman, Frank Brown and Kathy Brown —
three powerful voices advocating for shipping safety to protect our home.
As a result of this visit, and due to the recent accidents and increasing use of ATBs, the 2018 Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 6269 which provides an opportunity to improve the safety of these little-known oil carriers. The Bill included direction for the Washington State Department of Ecology to complete a vessel safety report on reducing oil spill risks posed by tanker, oil barge and ATB traffic in the Salish Sea by December 1, 2018.
Frequently Asked Questions
Isn't there a ban on tankers on British Columbia's North coast?
The tanker ban legislation does not affect any of the current traffic carrying petroleum products through the region. This includes 10,000 deadweight ton tug and barge shipments to Alaska transiting the B.C. Inside Passage, on average making one return trip every ten days with no stops in Canada. These shipments are approximately four times the volume of the largest domestic fuel deliveries to communities and industry on the central coast.
In recent months Canada’s Federal government has announced several moves towards better marine management along the north and central coast of British Columbia — the region also called the Great Bear Sea because it borders and intertwines with the Great Bear Rainforest. Long-awaited investments in emergency and spill response capacity for coastal communities, marine protected areas network planning together with First Nations and the province, habitat restoration, and a legislated tanker ban hold the promise of lasting biodiversity protection and livelihood security for coastal peoples. But can any of these measures really protect the Great Bear Sea when large shipments of toxic petroleum products will continue to transit its waters?
Why are ATB's an accident waiting to happen?
On November 26, 2017, the Harvey Marine ATB Jake Shearer lost its barge loaded with 67,000 barrels of diesel and 11,000 barrels of gasoline in a storm only one mile off the Goose Island group, again in Heiltsuk territory. The barge was just one anchor away from landing up on one of the most spectacular sections of coastline in the region, and had to be towed away by another tug.
Can oil spills be cleaned up from ATBs?
How are ATBs allowed to carry dangerous fuels through the Inside Passage?
What's the History of ATBs
As US labour costs in the coastal trades increased during the 1960s, and towed barges continued to suffer substantial delays during heavy weather, particularly in the petroleum sector, the idea of a tug pushing rather than pulling a barge was examined. Even though very large oil barges of up to 250,000 bbls capacity were being built and put into service, the hydrodynamic disadvantages of towing them was becoming highly evident. This brought the ATB concept where a barge would be pushed rather than pulled to enhance both speed and maneuverability.
Because of the lower manning requirement for a tug, ATB owners could also expect a substantial reduction in operating costs. The idea was to physically lock the two units together securely enough for a safe open-ocean passage. However, once separated, the tug often prove that they have not been designed to operate independently, at least not on the open ocean. Visibility is also a problem as a pilot must view obstacles from behind the full length of the tug that extends in front of the wheelhouse.