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article imageRussian ship hauling bunker and diesel fuel adrift off B.C. Coast

By Marcus Hondro     Oct 17, 2014 in Environment
A Russian container ship laden with some 450 tonnes of fuel is powerless and drifting in a storm off of the coast of B.C., toward Haida Gwaii. The ship has eleven crew members, including a captain who is reportedly injured.
The Canadian Forces' Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria said the ship, the Simushir, is, as of this afternoon, some 25 kilometres off Tasu Sound. It contains 400 tonnes of bunker fuel and 50 tonnes of diesel fuel. Ron MacDougall, acting Sub-lieutenant with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, told media the weather in the area of the Simushir is “severe”.
There are concerns the ship could run aground.
The Globe and Mail reported 50-knot winds and 7-metre seas in the area. Acting Sub-lieutenant MacDougall noted that the weather was expected to ease sometime today. The ship became powerless around 1:30 a.m., the Centre reported.
The captain is injured seriously enough that a helicopter has been sent from Canadian Forces Base Comox to pluck him from the ship and take him for medical attention. A tugboat and the coast guard ship, the Gordon Reid, are also en-route to the scene to provide aid to the Simushir (editors note: the coast guard ship arrived in the afternoon and has the Simushir under tow).
The Haida Gwaii council has been updating its Facebook page with news of the ship and of the potential disaster it could cause to the coastline were it to run aground and spill oil. The latest posting from the council reads as follows (note that some of the details differ from details provided by the Joint Rescue Centre in Victoria):
An emergency has arisen on the west coast of Haida Gwaii. A 135 metre container ship lost power at 1:30 am and is adrift 19 km west of Gowgaia Bay. The ship is carrying 500 metric tonnes of bunker fuel and 60 metric tonnes of diesel. Coast Guard is preparing for the worst with the ship hitting ground in 3-4 hours.
Two tugs have been deployed, from Alaska and Prince Rupert but the earliest they can get to the location is 20 hours out. The nation is setting up a command post in Old Massett and we will do our best to keep you updated on this dire situation.
The ship was en-route from Everett, Wash., to Russia.
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