Tugboat/crane incident still under investigation

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, November 8 2016

When it comes to “what happens next” for the September 27 tugboat incident in Dodd Narrows, the answer is: “still under investigation.”

On September 27, a tugboat was towing a crane loaded on a barge through Dodd Narrows.

The crane, which had its boom elevated, snagged the power lines and telecommunication lines which connect Mudge (and Gabriola) to the grids on Vancouver Island.

This left Mudge and Gabriola without power for three days, as well as without telecommunication lines - including 911 service - for five days.

So far, no investigative authority has placed fault on any specific party - though the companies whose lines were damaged in the incident are certainly waiting to see who will be covering the cost of repairs. The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) will not be conducting a formal investigation into what it calls a Class 5 incident. That according to Mohan Raman, TSB Regional Operations (Pacific) Manager.

According to the TSB website, of the 4,000 transportation occurrences reported to it each year, only a small proportion are investigated.

Generally, the Board will not participate in the investigation of foreign occurrences unless there is a high probability of advancing Canadian transportation safety and, generally, it will not investigate industrial-type occurrences (i.e. those not directly related to the transportation aspects of operations).

As Raman said, “This guy went through one of the channels and the boom brought down the lines.

“There wasn’t anything other than operations to consider.”

Raman said the investigation is now in the hands of Transport Canada.

Mélanie Lalonde, Media Relations with Transport Canada, said Transport Canada is conducting a compliance inspection on the tug and its operator to determine if there were any violations of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

She did not provide additional information.

Richard Gilhooley with TELUS Media Relations sent a statement on behalf of the company saying, “Our first priority was to restore services to customers impacted by the outage. 

“Our technicians were able to rapidly complete this work in spite of the difficult marine environment of Dodds Narrows. 

“We are conducting our own investigation into the incident, and we’re also awaiting the results of Transport Canada’s compliance inspection. Once these enquiries have been completed, we may be pursuing damages. Typically, the party at fault pays for costs related to an outage. 

“TELUS does not comment on the amounts claimed from third parties that damage our equipment.”

Ted Olynyk, Communications Manager for BC Hydro, said, “As this was caused by a third party, we will be seeking to recover costs for repairs.”

Representatives from Shaw Canada had not responded by press time.

Gary McCollum, owner of Village Food Market, said “It turns out we are not eligible to sue, or seek a settlement. It is a direct loss to us.”

As of yet, the Sounder is not aware of any class action suit having been filed with regard to the outage by anyone.

In related news, Olynyk said BC Hydro had not yet decided on a new date to have a scheduled outage, which will be required to  install aerial indicator balls on the lines across Dodd Narrows.