Nathan E. Stewart spill report recommends alleviating risk of fatigue in marine industry

Click to play video: 'Nathan E Stewart report recommends new measures to combat fatigue' Nathan E Stewart report recommends new measures to combat fatigue
WATCH: A new report from the Transportation Safety Board found the second mate aboard the Nathan E. Stewart was behind a major spill off Bella Bella in 2016. As Ted Chernecki reports the board is recommending measures to combat fatigue to prevent future spills – May 31, 2018

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada is calling on additional measures needed to effectively manage the risk of fatigue in the marine industry. The suggestion comes as part of a report into the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat and tank barge that crashed into the coast near Bella Bella on Heiltsuk First Nations territory on Oct. 13, 2016.

LISTEN: TSB announces findings from tugboat crash 

The crash destroyed the tug’s hull and approximately 110,000 litres of diesel fuel were spilled into the environment. The tug then sank after separating from the barge.

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The investigation report released on Thursday concluded that the second mate had fallen asleep on the American ship and missed a planned course change leading to the crash. Canadian regulations forbid crew from watching alone.

READ MORE: A man fell asleep at the wheel, and helped cause a massive fuel spill on B.C.’s coast

For more than two days, the crew members had been working on a schedule of six hours on and six hours resting. The TSB concluded that “this schedule presents a number of challenges, which have been well-documented by various studies and experts internationally.”

“There is a compelling need for vessel operators and watchkeepers to recognize and to address the factors that contribute to fatigue,” said TSB chair Kathy Fox. “If watchkeepers have a better understanding of those factors, and the actions they can take to reduce the risks, then we should see a reduction in the number of fatigue-related occurrences in the marine industry.”

WATCH HERE: First Nation releases report on Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Click to play video: 'First Nation releases report on Nathan E. Stewart oil spill' First Nation releases report on Nathan E. Stewart oil spill
First Nation releases report on Nathan E. Stewart oil spill – Apr 6, 2017

The TSB has made a pair of recommendations. The first is that Transport Canada requires mandatory education and awareness training to help identify and prevent the risks of fatigue. The TSB is also recommending vessel owners implement comprehensive fatigue-management plans.

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READ MORE: B.C. First Nation slams response to tug sinking

The Heiltsuk First Nation conducted its own report. That report found that failures in Canada’s emergency response measures were evident within hours of the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart. The report found the Transportation Safety Board and ship’s owner Kirby Corporation repeatedly refused to provide details about the ship’s log, black box, crew training or history, while spill response materials were unavailable and there was confusion over who was in charge.

“The investigation did not determine it slowed down the response. Did it create frustration, definitely,” said TSN marine investigator Glenn Budden. “What must have seemed like a lack of spill response was very frustrating to them, we heard that often in the investigation.”

READ MORE: Calgary mayor calls John Horgan ‘one of the worst politicians that we’ve seen in Canada in decades’

B.C. Premier John Horgan visited the area soon after the spill and often uses it as an example of the risks of a spill along B.C’s coast. In an online article Horgan wrote that “from our small boat, we watched the waves push diesel over clam beds that had been harvested by the Heiltsuk for centuries.”

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“The devastation I saw that day is considered by some to be a small spill, yet the Heiltsuk will live with the consequences for many years to come,” wrote Horgan. “I’ll be fighting for our coast, the tens of thousands of B.C. jobs that depend on oil-free coastal and inland waters, and the millions in economic activity generated by industries like tourism, film and fisheries.”

WATCH HERE: Calgary’s mayor has harsh words for John Horgan

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Calgary’s mayor has harsh words for John Horgan – May 11, 2018

Asked about the TSB report today, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman pointed to current holes to address spills along B.C.’s coast.

“There was just far too long of a delay before recovery boats and personnel were able to get there. It caused a lot of damage, it caused angst. Thank goodness the Heiltsuk were on the scene, they need better support,” said Heyman.


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