News / Vancouver

Oil spill response ship runs aground en route to Vancouver news conference

File this under oops: The largest oil spill response ship along B.C.’s coast ran aground on its way to an appearance at a news conference in Vancouver on Monday.

According to Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, Burrard Cleaner No. 9 ran into a previously uncharted sandbar off Sand Heads.

A WCMRC spokesperson said the incident caused no damage and was reported to Transport Canada.

The ship, with engines powered down, drifted off the sandbar within minutes.

Allan Hughes, of the Coast Guard’s marine communications union, said it’s “astonishing” that federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was touting the ability to deal with oil spills without noting how long it took for the best response boat to get to the area, Hughes said.

The trip across the Strait took just over seven hours, but WCMRC stressed the ship was travelling at cruising speeds – much slower than in the case of an emergency.

There are three vessels capable of mopping up spills in and around the city’s harbours, but the Victoria ship is the most capable, Hughes added.

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