Marine news release 2012

Underestimated currents, fatigue, and absence of safety management system contributed to Queensborough Railway Bridge striking

Gatineau, Quebec, 12 December 2012 — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (M11W0091) into the 28 June 2011 striking of a bridge by a barge on the Fraser River, in British Columbia.

While under tow of the tug F.W. Wright, the loaded gravel barge Empire 40 struck the Queensborough Railway Bridge on the Fraser River. The bridge centre swing span and protection pier sustained extensive damage. This resulted in the bridge being inoperable for a period of 2 months after the striking, causing major disruptions to railway and river traffic.

The investigation determined that the crew was fatigued and that they had underestimated the additional effect of the spring runoff on the current as the barge approached the bridge. This resulted in the barge striking the bridge. No one was injured, and there was no pollution as a result of this occurrence.

Furthermore, the investigation identified once again that, in the absence of a safety management system (SMS) for small commercial vessels, there is an increased probability that risks will remain unidentified and that vessels will be operated in an unsafe manner. Implemented properly, an SMS allows marine operators to identify hazards, manage risks, as well as develop and follow effective safety processes. For years, the TSB has been calling on Transport Canada to require all commercial vessels to have an SMS.

Marine safety management systems were identified as an issue on the TSB's Watchlist. The Watchlist is a list of issues the TSB has determined to pose the most serious risk to Canada's transportation system.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053