Government of Canada takes action to remove bulk oil from the MV Schiedyk shipwreck in British Columbia

News release

June 9, 2021

Nootka Sound, British Columbia – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting Canada’s oceans and waterways, and is taking action to address the threat posed by wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels, including the MV Schiedyk, a historic shipwreck leaking oil off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Today, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced the award of a $5.7 million emergency contract to Resolve Marine Group of Fort Lauderdale, Florida to remove bulk fuel from the MV Schiedyk. The recent results of a technical assessment determined that immediate action to remove bulk fuel is necessary to protect Nootka Sound, an area rich in natural beauty, history, culture, wildlife, and in the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation.

In the fall of 2020, the shipwreck was confirmed to be the source of several reports of visible sheen on the surface of the water in Zuciarte Channel, near Bligh Island in Nootka Sound. Since then, the Canadian Coast Guard, BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation have been jointly leading a virtual Incident Command Post to manage the response to reduce oil on the water and protect the environment.

The technical assessment found two tanks containing heavy fuel oil, one tank with marine diesel oil, and one tank with mixed oil product on board the vessel. The amount of fuel is estimated to be approximately 147 cubic metres based on the total volume of the tanks, however that amount may be less if the internal tank walls have been compressed.

Resolve Marine will use a process called “hot tapping” to reduce the volume of fuel in the tanks. This process involves drilling a hole in the fuel tank from the outside, attaching a drainage valve, and pumping the fuel out of the tank through a hose attached to the valve. The hot-tap method has been used successfully on shipwrecks for many years, including in the case of the Manolis L in Atlantic Canada in 2018. Given the nature of the operation, there is a small risk of a larger release of oil. Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response crews are prepared to address this should it arise, and will continue to be on-site and ready to respond if necessary.

Work is scheduled to begin in mid-June and is expected to take several weeks.

Quotes

“Wrecked, abandoned and hazardous vessels like the MV Schiedyk pose a threat to Canada’s vibrant oceans and coastlines.  Working with Resolve Marine Group and local companies the Canadian Coast Guard, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation is taking necessary steps to keep the marine environment in Nootka Sound safe and healthy for today and future generations.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • Built in Ireland in 1948, the MV Schiedyk is a 147-metre (483 ft) cargo ship that sank on January 3, 1968. After striking a submerged ledge on the south side of Bligh Island the ship drifted down Zuciarte Channel and sank on the east side of Bligh Island at a depth of 106 to 122 metres (350 to 400 ft).

  • Before the 34 crew members abandoned ship, oil was reported on the water but it is unknown how much oil escaped at that time.

  • Almost 40,000 kg of oil and oily waste has been recovered since the start of the response operation. More detailed information about the response and the results of the technical assessment are available on the incident web site, hosted by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, at: www.spillresponsebc.ca (English only)

  • Resolve Marine Group has extensive international experience with complex emergency salvage and response. Crews will be supported by Canadian subcontractors including the Canadian-registered Atlantic Condor vessel which will act as the operations platform.

Associated links

Contacts

Jane Deeks
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-550-9594
Jane.Deeks@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada 
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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