Current Conditions

Mostly Cloudy

Crews start taking fuel off sunken tug on B.C. central coast

October 17, 2016 - 6:02 PM

BELLA BELLA, B.C. - Salvage crews began siphoning more than 200,000 litres of diesel Monday from a sunken tug off British Columbia's central coast.

A situation report on the cleanup operation said divers began pumping fuel from the Nathan E. Stewart's tanks and the operation is expected to take up to 40 hours.

The report was jointly issued by the federal and provincial governments, the local First Nation and the tug's owner, Texas-based Kirby Corp.

The Transportation Safety Board also announced Monday it is gathering information and conducting interviews with crew members for its assessment of what went wrong with the 30-metre tug.

The tug was pushing an empty barge when it ran onto some rocks last Tuesday at the mouth of Seaforth Channel, about 20 kilometres west of Bella Bella, near the Great Bear Rainforest.

It was submerged under about nine metres of water and continued to seep fuel from its damaged starboard and central diesel tanks.

The situation report says leaking fuel was being contained by a boom. The amount of diesel that spilled has not been confirmed.

The report says there is also almost 2,500 litres of lube oil and thousands more litres of hydraulic oil, gear oil and dirty bilge water onboard the tug.

It also says an oily sheen is escaping containment.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada closed nearby shellfish harvesting on Friday. The closure near Athlone Island in Seaforth Channel affects recreational, aboriginal and commercial fisheries for clam, geoduck, horseclam, oyster and scallops.

The Fisheries and Oceans notice said there was already a closure in the area because of red tide, or paralytic shellfish poison, that is caused by toxins.

In Ottawa on Monday, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said he thought the coast guard did a "terrific job" in saving and ensuring there was no loss of life during the sinking. Seven crew members were safely taken off the vessel.

A day after the spill, B.C. Premier Christy Clark criticized the federal government's commitment to disaster response on the West Coast, saying it has spent more money on the East Coast.

LeBlanc said he takes the premier's comments seriously and he and Transport Minister Marc Garneau have consulted with many in the industry.

"We have some specific ideas of things that we can do to improve, particularly around environmental response on all of the Canadian coasts, but certainly we understand the concern of British Columbians and we're working diligently to ensure that we have an absolutely world-class response system."

The Heiltsuk Nation called the situation an unfolding environmental disaster because it threatens clam beds vital to the community's culture and economy.

"We don't know how many years or decades it will be before we are able to harvest in these waters again," Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett said in a news release.

Weather reports show an approaching storm with winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour is due to reach the area late Wednesday.

It's hoped the tug can be lifted from the water by crane and barged out of the area once its fuel tanks have been pumped out.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Kamloops senior almost swindled out of $4,800
    KAMLOOPS - Yesterday, a Kamloops senior had a close call with a pair of brazen scam artists. Staff Sgt. Edward Preto says in a release that yesterday, Oct. 21, an elderly woman received a ph
  • Police collar Kamloops break and enter suspect
    KAMLOOPS - A report of an in progress break and enter in downtown Kamloops led to the arrest of a 40-year-old man who is known to police. Yesterday afternoon, at 1:12 p.m., officers and poli
  • TRENDING NOW: Ship honks at little girl
    This little girl begged a passing ship to honk its horn. It's safe to say she learned a lesson.
  • Warnings about fentanyl-laced marijuana in the Southern Interior
    THOMPSON-OKANAGAN – Fentanyl is being mixed with marijuana here in the Southern Interior, leading the Kamloops ASK Wellness Society to be even more concerned about the rise of deaths related
  • Feature film looking for extras in South Okanagan
    OLIVER - Calling all actors, a feature film is set to begin filming in the Oliver and Osoyoos areas next month and film crews are looking for extras. The film entitled  The Humanity Bur

View Site in: Desktop | Mobile