The hull of the Prince George has started to cool, but the controversy over who is responsible for the charred vessel is just starting to heat up. Squamish Fire and Rescue are not investigating the fire, the Squamish RCMP detachment has some type of investigation underway, the Britannia Beach Volunteer Fire Department does not have the manpower to handle an investigation and the Coast Guard is on site at Britannia Wharf monitoring the wreck to insure no environmental damage occurs. Meanwhile, everyone is searching for the owner of the beleaguered steamship. A question even remains as to whether or not the vessel was insured at the time of the fire. Glen Hastie, assistant chief of the Britannia Beach Volunteer Fire Department, says he handed all of his files on the fire over to Squamish RCMP two weeks ago. While his crew is no longer involved in the investigation Hastie says the mystery surrounding the ownership of the Prince George is still unsolved. Hastie says Britannia Beach residents would like to see the ownership question answered as soon as possible because the small community would like to find out who is going to be responsible for clean up around the Prince George. "We would like to see the environmental question answered as soon as possible," Hastie says. The 335 foot vessel was ravaged by a 24 hour fire Oct. 15. Although one month has passed since the Prince George burnt, no one can even say who is carrying on the official investigation. Rod Nelson, a public relations officer with the Coast Guard, says members of the Coast Guard have been monitoring the hull to make sure no environmental damage occurs through fuel of other contaminants leaking out of the hull. He says the Coast Guard is in the process of tracking down the owner of the vessel. "We have been looking for the owner because our policy is the polluter pays for the cleanup," Nelson says. So far, the Coast Guard has placed a boom around the ship to contain any contaminants that may leak into Howe Sound, but the bills are piling up and now are into the "thousands of dollars." The vessel still contains asbestos and roughly 2,000 litres of diesel in her fuel tanks. Nelson says the Coast Guard will have to sound the tanks and pump them out in order to avert a costly diesel spill — but they want to find out who to send the bill to before doing it. As well, the hull is starting to list to starboard, so safety questions have to be addressed before Coast Guard personnel can investigate structural damage to the vessel. The ownership trail stops with Christopher Wilson, the Canadian Agent for Limbourg Investments Ltd., the company hired to find a buyer for the Prince George. Wilson was unavailable for comment at press time, but he has not released the owner’s name in the past.


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