Environmental Emergency Management Program

Queen of the North B.C. Ferry Sinking

Shoreline Assessment Team
Shoreline Assessment Team systematically measuring oil
contamination of beaches - Gil Island in background

Click to view full-size image (PDF 2.2 MB)Location

While travelling from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, the Queen of the North sank after running aground on Gil Island in Wright Sound, 135 Kilometres south of Prince Rupert.

Time and Date of Incident

At approximately 12:25 am on Wednesday, March 22, 2006
the Queen of the North ran aground. The vessel sank
approximately 1 hour afterward.

Product/Quantity Spilled 1

The vessel was loaded with 225,000 litres of diesel fuel, 15,000 litres of light oil, 3,200 litres of hydraulic fluid and 3,200 litres of stern tube oil.

Cause of Spill

The spill was caused by the sinking of the Ferry after it hit Gill Island then drifted offshore and sank releasing much of its fuel product.

Environmental Setting and Impacts

Wright Sound and surrounding area is rich in marine life. It is a major vessel transportation route of the Inside Passage. The coastal waters are important for First Nations’ fisheries and economies. There were minimal impacts on wildlife as the initial large release of product – mostly diesel - quickly evaporated and dispersed during high wind and warm periods shortly after the spill. The on-going chronic discharges and remaining oil from and in the ferry remains as an environmental concern.

Response Participants:

Responsible Party 2

  • BC Ferry Services Incorporated

Lead Agencies 3

  • Provincial: B.C. Ministry of Environment
  • Federal: Canadian Coast Guard
  • First Nations: Hartley Bay and Kitkatla

Primary Participating Contractors and other Agencies

  • Burrard Clean Operations
  • Environment Canada
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Response Summary/Closure

An Incident Management Team was activated on the morning of March 22, 2006 and established and Incident Command Post at Prince Rupert. The team worked to establish booms at numerous sites, including where fuel was welling-up over the sunken vessel. Over 5000 feet of containment boom was set up in four sensitive areas. A Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Team (SCAT) was also activated. A long-term environmental monitoring plan was formulated that will involve members from both the Hartley Bay and Kitkatla First Nations and environmental agencies.

News Releases and Information Bulletins



1. Conversions

1 barrel = 42 US gallons = O.16 cubic metres
1 cubic meter = 6.29 barrels = 264 US gallons = 1,000 litres
1 tonne = 7 barrels
1 nautical miles = 1.85 kilometers
Note: volume and mass relationships vary with density of product.

2. Responsible Party

Responsible Party (RP) refers an agency or company taking responsibility for impact mitigation (e.g. cleanup, response management) as a possible consequence of their actions or that of a third party. Generally referred to as either the spiller or polluter.

3. Lead Agencies

Agencies that have jurisdictional (federal, provincial, local governments, and First Nations) or functional (Fire, Police, Ambulance) command roles in managing the incident. The designation of the lead agency may be based on legislation, an interagency agreement, a Cabinet decision and/or custom or precedent. There can be more than one lead agency represented under a unified command, as well as the Responsible Party.