BRITISH COLUMBIA

Victoria Harbour Barge Tips As Many As 20 Vehicles Into Water

08/28/2015 09:09 EDT | Updated 08/28/2016 05:59 EDT

VICTORIA — A company that owns a barge laden with wrecked vehicles doesn't know why it tipped Friday afternoon, dumping some of its scrap load into Victoria's inner harbour.

Nobody was injured in the incident, said Bart Reynolds, president of Seaspan Marine, the vessel's owner.

The company was waiting for the tide to drop Friday evening to lighten the load on the barge, which has a 3,750 metric-ton capacity, Reynolds said.

"The priority is to unload the barge to a point where the list is no longer a problem and then rectify the problem and find out why it was listing in the first place," he said.

victoria harbour barge tip

Jeff St. Thomas was restoring the exterior of a heritage home in a residential neighbourhood just across the Gorge Waterway.

"Well, I heard noise at first because I had my back turned to it, you know, and I could hear the kind of scraping noises, something grinding, and I'm, 'What the hell is that?'" said the carpenter, noting it sounded like low-pitched groaning. "It was the cars, you know, sliding, grinding as they were sliding off, you know metal scraping noise."

"And I looked, and a couple had already gone in by then, and then I saw another like four or five go in: splash, splash, splash, right."

The Ministry of Environment said in a news release that metal-recycling company Schnitzer Steel was loading the barge.

It wasn't clear how many wrecked vehicles went into the water. The ministry said it could be as many as 20.

Booms were positioned to contain any pollution, the ministry said, adding that Transport Canada indicated the vehicles were cleaned of fuel before loading.

Reynolds said the barge was heading to a port in Washington state and he didn't know who owned the vehicles.

Seaspan has three vessels stationed in Victoria, crews and a manager are standing by, and employees from Vancouver will be heading over, he said.

As the tide drops, he said, the company will begin unloading the vehicles and he doesn't want to speculate on any damage to the barge.

"Thankfully nobody was injured and our priority at this point is to make sure that we're able to unload that barge safely and make sure nobody gets hurt," he said.

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