MISSION (NEWS1130) – There’s a new concern related to the high water levels on the Fraser River: seven derelict ships moored together in Mission.

One of them is the Queen of Sidney, a BC ferry that was retired 12 years ago. The environment minister says he does not know who owns the ship now, or the other rusting vessels near it.

Terry Lake has issued an Environmental Emergency Declaration, giving the ministry the power to have the ships secured by a private company.

“These vessels are large enough that they could take out infrastructure such as bridges, cause all kinds of damage” says Lake.

“The issue of derelict vessels along the coast and along rivers is a longstanding one,” he adds. “And when the river water comes up like this, if they are inadequately secured, as we determined [on Tuesday] through an expert marine advisor, then we really fear for downstream effects, including spills.”

The ministry plans to attempt to recover the cost of securing the vessels from the owner or owners of those ships.

Along with hiring a private contractor to do the work, Lake says the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada are on standby, waiting to react if any of the ships do break free of their moorings.