Vancouver city hall says taxpayers are on the hook for more than $66,000 due to the Barge on the Beach. But bureaucrats are seeking reimbursement.
The 84-metre-long bin barge that ran aground at Sunset Beach in a Nov. 15, 2021 windstorm, known officially as STM-5000, became a local pop culture icon for the first few months of its stay. An early attempt to tow it away failed and expert reports showed it was an environmental hazard.
Crews from Vancouver Pile Driving took apart the barge, piece-by-piece, during a three-and-a-half month period last summer and fall in project estimated at $2.4 million.
They finished the work Nov. 17, 2022 by making a final check of the seabed and disassembled the last remnants of scaffolding. Vancouver Pile Driving gave its final weekly update on Dec. 12.
According to a statement from the city’s communications department on Monday, $66,112.23 in costs have been submitted for reimbursement from the vessel owner Sentry Marine Towing Ltd. and insurer Coast Claims Insurance.
The total includes $58,264 billed by contractor Securiguard for round-the-clock protection from November 2021 to January 2022 and $7,848.23 for Vancouver Police on Nov. 15-16, 2021.
Meanwhile, there will be no further clean-up work on the beach related to the Barge removal.
“The Park Board reviewed the assessments that were completed following the removal of the barge and were satisfied with the existing condition of the shoreline post-deconstruction. No remediation work is required,” said the statement
A post-deconstruction habitat survey had been planned for May 2023.
Documents obtained via freedom of information showed that the barge wasn’t supposed to remain for the anniversary of its arrival. A late-April version of the contractor’s schedule estimated deconstruction and removal would be over by mid-July. Approval to use provincially owned land, negotiations for a licensing agreement between the city, Sentry and Coast Claims and discussions about the weight and type of site barriers all caused delays.
Safety barriers were erected June 30 and deconstruction finally began July 25.
A hazardous materials survey by Orca Health and Safety found breaches of the hull in at least three places. Testing found lead throughout the hull and bulwarks and diesel oil and hydraulic fluids. Copper and zinc were presumed in the hull underwater. No asbestos, volatile organic compounds or PCBs were found, but materials that were detected needed to be removed or contained prior to demolition.
“The presence of lead in the vessel’s paint systems is considered to pose a moderate to high risk to workers during breaking,” said the Orca report.
The barge was originally built in 1966 by Zidell Explorations Inc. in Portland, Ore., and known as Foss 275. It became STM-5000 after it was rebuilt and converted into a bin barge in 1987.
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