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Feds to remove derelict vessel from Fraser River amid ‘imminent risks of pollution’

Global News logo Global News 2020-01-07 Simon Little
a large ship in a body of water: The MV Spudnik seen in Howe Sound after breaking free of its moorings in November, 2014. © Global News The MV Spudnik seen in Howe Sound after breaking free of its moorings in November, 2014.

The federal government is acting to remove a notorious derelict vessel from the Fraser River.

The MV Spudnik, a 59.7-metre long former U.S. Navy transport freighter, is currently located in the in the river near Surrey.

According to a recent assessment by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), "there are imminent risks of pollution threat, hull corrosion, possible sinking and fire" associated with the boat, prompting work to "permanently resolve the threat."

READ MORE: Derelict vessel ‘Spudnick’ breaks away from moorings in Squamish

The DFO says it has retained contractor Marine Recycling Corporation to assess ways to safely dismantle and remove the vessel from the river, a process expected to take until next srping.

The ministry estimated the cost to remove the Spudnik was about $3.3 million.

Under Canadian law, the vessel's owner is responsible for the costs of an environmental response operation, but the ministry said if the owner can't be made to pay up, it would submit a claim to the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund, a "fund of last resort" that covers marine spills.

Asked whether the ship's owner had been identified or could be expected to cover the cost of removal, a ministry spokesperson said "the means of cost recovery is under further consideration," and that addressing potential environmental contamination was its first priority.

READ MORE: Local MP applauds as coast guard works to secure derelict ship from N.S. river

It's not the first time the MV Spudnik has made headlines.

In 2014, the vessel broke free from its moorings near Squamish and drifted into Howe Sound with more than 6,500 litres of petroleum products aboard.

A Coast Guard tug was deployed to tow the vessel to New Westminster.

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