The B.C. Environment Ministry has declared a cluster of derelict ferries and steamers tied up at Mission to be an environmental emergency.
The former Queen of Sidney and six other vessels are a risk to public safety and infrastructure downstream, the government announced late Tuesday afternoon.
The ministry has issued an emergency declaration and will be securing the boats as soon as possible. The government described them as “improperly secured.”
If the boats break loose, they could head downstream towards Abbotsford, Langley, or Maple Ridge and crash into other river traffic, bridges, and houseboats.
Langley has a significant houseboat community at the foot of 208th Street, and the Jacob Haldi and Golden Ears Bridges span the river here. In addition, there are float plane docks east of Fort Langley and several fishing boat docks, public and private, along the length of the river.
The risk of secondary oil or fuel spills if one of the boats hit another vessel was also a consideration, according to the ministry.
Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada staff are working with the ministry on the project.
The costs of properly tying up the boats may be billed to their current owners. The ministry said it will try to recover the costs of the project.