Local residents marched last Sunday at Union Bay, traditional unceded territory of First Nations within Baynes Sound, British Columbia, Canada, to protest against the dirty and dangerous scrapping operations carried out in the area by Deep Water Recovery Ltd (DWR). More than a hundred of people, including actress and activist Sarah Wayne Callies and MP Gord Johns, gathered at the Union Bay Community Hall demanding, once again, urgent action from federal, provincial and regional authorities.
First Nations, national NGOs and international groups, alongside local residents, have been opposing for more than two years the shipbreaking activities of DWR, which has been caught acting in contravention of laws several times, but has not yet been punished for it.
In 2022, the Comox Valley Regional District sought an injunction against DWR, accusing the company of violating regional bylaws. DWR has also been found to be out of compliance four times under British Columbia’s Environmental Management Act and Hazardous Waste Regulations. In fact, testing conducted at the site recently revealed concentrations of copper, lead, zync and cadmium above permitted levels.
Still, operations at DWR continue, with the former US government-owned vessel NOAAS Miller Freeman (R 223) being slowly pulled ashore. Given its age and type, the NOAAS Miller Freeman is likely to contain high amounts of hazardous substances in its structures, such as toxic paints and asbestos. A petroleum spill already occurred on November 2022 as the vessel was being dragged onto the beach.
“Allowing in the first place the setting up of such a hazardous operation adjacent to a residential area and in an ecologically sensitive zone is unacceptable. The inability of competent authorities to prioritise public and environmental health in spite of the blatant disregard of international and national rules and standards at the shipbreaking plot is even more worrying.
The NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows its full support to the local community of Baynes Sound and calls, once more, upon competent bodies to halt immediately all scrapping activities conducted by the operator.” – Nicola Mulinaris – Senior Communication and Policy Advisor – NGO Shipbreaking Platform