Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

December 23, 2013 17:30 ET

The Government of Canada Announces That Zalinski Pollution Recovery Operation Successfully Wraps-Up

PRINCE RUPERT, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 23, 2013) - The Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, announced the successful completion of the Zalinski Pollution Recovery Operation in Grenville Channel−roughly 100km from Prince Rupert on the North Coast of British Columbia. The two-month operation safely extracted approximately 44,000L of heavy Bunker C oil and 319,000L of oily water from the wreck.

"This significant achievement is another example of our Government's commitment towards a clean environment and making sure that our agencies have the resources they need to ensure environment safety," said Minister Shea. "This successful operation was an important experience building exercise for the Canadian Coast Guard. We thank the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the Gitga'at First Nation and the Gitxaala First Nation for their important support and cooperation."

The Canadian Coast Guard acted on March 2013 reports suggesting an upwelling of heavy oil at the Zalinski wreck site, promptly assessing the situation and patching areas of concern on the wreck. The USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski sank in 1946 in Grenville Channel while in transit to Alaska, carrying a variety of cargo. The wreck sits upside down on a rocky shelf in 130 feet of water. Since the wreck was discovered in 2003, the Canadian Coast Guard launched several operations to patch and seal the wreck as new upwelling became evident. This week, after exhaustive efforts, the Coast Guard concluded the operation.

The project was managed using the Incident Command System (ICS) model, which saw representatives from the Canadian Coast Guard, the B.C. Ministry of Environment, the Gitga'at First Nation, and the Gitxaala First Nation collaborate within a Unified Command at Prince Rupert to make key decisions as the operation proceeded.

"The successful collaboration between representatives from the Canadian Coast Guard, the Gitga'at First Nation, the Gitxaala First Nation and the Province of BC helped build valuable relationships which will be important in supporting future spill preparedness in the local area," said British Columbia Minister of Environment, Mary Polak.

Members from both the Gitga'at First Nation and the Gitxaala First Nation were important contributors to the operation. Each Nation provided valuable local and cultural knowledge and assisted in the identification of historically important and high value ecological sites within the surrounding area.

"The Zalinski Operation was a great educational opportunity for several members of the Gitga'at First Nation which helped to build relationships with people from across the project," said Henry Clifton, Unified Command Representative for Gitga'at. "The project provided a unique opportunity to teach others about our culture, our traditional ways, and the importance of our heritage."

"The Gitxaala First Nation are satisfied with how things were conducted and were pleased to have been an integral part of the planning and execution of the operation," said Tim Innes, Unified Command Representative for Gixaala. "I think that all parties have learned a lot from each other and are hopeful that these relationships will continue into the future."

Work will continue in nearby Lowe Inlet Provincial Marine Park, where several accommodations barges and communications network sites were located. As the project components are demobilized, the sites will be returned to their pre-project condition. An environmental sampling program will also continue to monitor the site into the new year.

For broadcast :

Minister Shea announced today that the Canadian Coast Guard salvage operations on the sunken USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski have successfully concluded. Working with several Federal, Provincial, local First Nations governments and commercial contractors, the two-month operation safely extracted 44,000L of heavy Bunker C oil and 319,000L of oily water from the wreck without impact to the marine environment. Completion of the project has successfully removed the risk of a significant release from the wreck in the future.

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Salvage operations on the sunken USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski have successfully concluded.

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Contact Information

  • Frank Stanek
    Media Relations
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada

    Sophie Doucet
    Director, Communications
    Office of the Minister
    Fisheries and Oceans Canada