Russian freighter, adrift off BC, towed to port

A Russian container ship that lost power and was drifting dangerously close to a rocky coast off northern British Columbia, is safe and being towed to port for repairs.

The Simushir, en route from Washington State to Russia, was reached by an ocean-going tugboat on Saturday afternoon, after previous attempts by the Canadian Coast Guard to secure the vessel failed.

The ship with 11 crew members lost power on Thursday evening. There was concern the vessel, with its cargo of containers and mining equipment, could run aground on Haida Gwaii, spilling bunker fuel.

The incident is likely to rekindle debate over oil tanker safety on the Canadian West Coast, the expected terminus of the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge. More oil tankers are also expected to ply the coast if a second pipeline proposal, by Kinder Morgan, to expand its existing Trans Mountain line to Vancouver, is approved.

The area is also being considered for a number of LNG plants that would ship natural gas to Asia.