Organizers of a rally to protest the presence of the Viki Lyne II in Ladysmith Harbour hope to get a flotilla gathered Sunday, July 19, at the bow of the derelict vessel, which a Coast Guard commissioned study has said is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.
“The Federal government needs to hear from us. Our beaches, sea life and harbour industries are in peril,” said Rob Pinkerton Friday, July 10. “The vessel Viki Lyne II is in imminent danger of sinking with 13,000 liters of oil and solvents on board.”
A front-page story in the June 16 Chronicle (Why is this ship still in our harbour?) presented findings of the marine survey, conducted in June 2012, which described the 224 ton, 103 ft long Viki Lyne II as a hulk, so rusted that it may only be a layer of “scale and marine growth, which is preventing the inflooding of the hull.”
“Disassembly and scrapping of the vessel is the only certain way of removing her current threat to the environment,” McAllister Marine Survey & Design concluded.
Three years later, the Viki Lyne II is still moored in Ladysmith Harbour, which prompted Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone and Stz’uminus Chief John Elliott to write federal Minister of Transport Lisa Rait Feb. 15 expressing ‘grave concern.’
The only action taken to date was last fall, when the Coast Guard had 20,000 litres of oil and solvents pumped from the vessel. That still leaves the estimated 13,000 litres on board, enough to cause serious environmental and economic damage, jeopardizing the harbour’s shellfish industry, tourism and recreational access.
Pinkerton wants Ladysmith and area residents to add their voices to the call for action. “Come join other concerned citizens who are going to express their disapproval… to the Federal government by forming a flotilla of small vessels off the bow of the Viki Lyne II,” he said.
But the Chronicle has learned that the chances of having the Viki Lyne II removed may actually be worsening day by day rather than getting better.
The Canadian Coast Guard does not have any budget to deal with derelict vessels. Instead they have to remove them within their existing budget, then apply to an organization called the Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund (SSOPF) to recover costs.
Administrator Alfred Popp told the Chronicle in June that the SSOPF prefers to deal with vessels that pose an environmental risk ‘comprehensively,’ within two years, not incrementally over a longer period.
When the Coast Guard had oil removed from the Viki Lyne II, they may have triggered a two-year clock, and unless the Viki Lyne II is dealt with comprehensively by then they could become ineligible for SSOPF funding.
As of June no funding through the SSOPF had been applied for, but Coast Guard Senior Communication Advisor Tom Robbins confirmed Friday an application for funding will be made.
Robbins could not confirm what the application will be for, but the SSOPF only funds work already done, which would mean the Coast Guard can only apply for reimbursement of money spent removing oil and solvents last fall.
He could not confirm if the Coast Guard plans to take further steps.
For more information about the protest email Rob Pinkerton at firstname.lastname@example.org