Stuck barge obstructing navigation on Fraser River near South Vancouver

A barge is obstructing the navigation channel in the North Arm of the Fraser River near the Knight Street bridge, the Port of Vancouver said Thursday evening.

The Canadian Coast Guard said it is on scene and is monitoring the potential for environmental impact after a barge and a tugboat ran aground in the river north of Mitchell Island.

So far, there has been no sign of pollution related to the incident, the Coast Guard said.

A recycling business on Mitchell Island told CTV News the barge became stuck sometime in the afternoon. Neither the port authority nor the Coast Guard was able to say Thursday what had caused the vessels to become stuck.

The port told CTV News early assessments showed “no injuries or environmental impacts,” and the Coast Guard’s Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center in Victoria – which conducts marine search and rescue operations – confirmed it had not responded to the incident.

Though the navigation channel north of Mitchell Island was obstructed, the port said the North Arm of the Fraser River remained navigable, noting that vessels can safely pass south of Mitchell Island.

Images from the scene appeared to show a tugboat wedged between the vessel and the shore of Mitchell Island. Workers could be seen aboard the barge, which appeared as though it may have sustained damage to its superstructure.

The area is highly industrial, with multiple lumber yards, scrap yards and automotive businesses based on Mitchell Island and the river’s northern shore in South Vancouver.

The Coast Guard told CTV News both the tugboat and the barge were stable Thursday night, and said the owner of the vessels had a plan to refloat them around 10 pm when the tide is high.

An additional tug will be brought in to assist with the operation, the Coast Guard said, adding that it remained on scene “to ensure an appropriate response.”

If the plan to refloat the barge is successful, the vessel will have spent far less time aground than Vancouver’s infamous English Bay barge, which has been stranded on Sunset Beach for more than five months.

That vessel’s owner plans to deconstruct it, but the timeline for when that will happen has not been announced. To website promising updates on the project indicates it’s still in the planning stages.

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