Disabled Russian ship loaded with dangerous goods remains adrift in stormy seas


OCTOBER 17, 2014


SMITHERS – Nathan Cullen continues to work with emergency responders, First Nations and communities as a Russian-registered container vessel carrying fuel and other dangerous goods drifts without power in stormy seas 20 kilometres off the rocky west coast of Moresby Island.

“This is a frightening incident with potentially devastating consequences and the Coast Guard and many other agencies are working hard to aid the disabled ship and its crew,” Cullen said.

Cullen and his offices have been in contact with the Coast Guard, Council of Haida Nation, island communities and federal and provincial authorities throughout the day.

The 135-metre Simushir lost power around 1:30 am this morning and Cullen was alerted to the incident minutes later by a constituent.  The 16-year old ship, carrying 500 metric tonnes of bunker fuel, 60 metric tonnes of diesel and other industrial cargo, is awaiting the arrival of tugs tomorrow morning to aid in rescue efforts.

Cullen is hosting town halls in the riding this week to talk about his private member’s bill he introduced in Parliament last month to ban oil supertankers off the North Coast.  He noted today’s incident, while not involving an oil supertanker, sharply illustrates the dangers faced by large vessels navigating treacherous North Pacific waters with toxic cargo.

“People have certainly been drawing parallels all day with the stricken Russian ship and Enbridge Northern Gateway’s plan to move raw bitumen through our North Coast waters.

“The degree to which today’s response is hampered by five-metre seas only 20 kilometres offshore pales in comparison to the nightmare of aiding a foundering bitumen-loaded supertanker in raging winter storms hundreds of kilometres out to sea,” Cullen said.

                                                      - 30 -

Contact: Shelley Browne, nathan.cullen.c1@parl.gc.ca, 250-877-4140