Demands for formal safety management systems for undersized tug vessels and undermanned fleets along the B.C. coast and rivers are being issued by the Local 400 Marine Section of the International Longshore Workers Union, the organization announced in a news release on Feb. 24.
“The demand follows the tragic capsize of the tug Ingenika south of Kitimat on Feb. 11. The sinking claimed the lives of Troy Pearson, a seasoned skipper, and crew member Charley Cragg, believed to be working his first-ever shift aboard a tug. A third young crew member, Zac Dolan, was rescued after washing ashore in icy waters and sub-zero temperatures,” the press release reads.
In a letter to the federal Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, the union is also requesting regulations for vessels under 15 gross-tons with sufficient oversight, including manpower and an enforcement budget, be established to ensure that operators follow any new regulations and procedures governing hours of work, risk assessment, training, communications and towing arrangements (equipment).
“For at least ten years, Transport Canada has debated such regulation and oversight. Formal consultations began in 2010,” the letter to Ottawa reads. “By mid-decade, regulators took a gamble — and sided with a narrow segment of the industry insisting that such regulations were too expensive for smaller vessels.”
In the letter to 15 recipients, including Rob Fleming BC Minister of Transport, Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour, Transport Canada, Canadian Merchant Service Guild, Seafarers International Union, BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, as well as others, the ILWU listed four other tugboat incidents along the B.C Northcoast where previous safety concerns and risks to crews were noted.
“The transportation Safety Board is investigating this month’s tragedy. We believe that its findings will produce safety lesson to be learned, applied, many mirroring the previous cautions to Transportation Canada,” ILWU wrote in the letter.
“Canadians pay $33 million a year for the professional independent, arms-length work of the TSB – not simply to find out how transport accidents happened, but to detail the specific lessons leamed and to craft recommendations to prevent them from happening again,” the ILWU media statement read.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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