Rescued barge adrift off B.C. coast to be towed to Alaska; First Nation relieved - InfoNews

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Rescued barge adrift off B.C. coast to be towed to Alaska; First Nation relieved

The U.S.-registered tugboat, the Jack Shearer and a barge carrying millions of litres of fuel is seen leaving Heiltsuk Territory under tow in this undated, submitted photo. The barge broke away from the tugboat southwest of Bella Bella last Sunday.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Heiltsuk Tribal Council/Robert Reid HTC
December 03, 2017 - 11:30 AM

BELLA BELLA, B.C. - A British Columbia First Nation is breathing a sigh of relief as a barge carrying millions of litres of fuel was removed from its harbour on the central coast.

The barge broke away from a U.S.-registered tugboat, the Jake Shearer, southwest of Bella Bella last Sunday.

Heiltsuk Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett says it's "terrifying" to consider the damage that could have been caused if a spill occurred.

The barge was carrying 12.5 million litres of diesel and gasoline, which Slett says is four times the volume initially estimated.

Another tugboat was brought in earlier this week to help in completing the tow to Alaska.

The Heiltsuk experienced a significant diesel spill last year when a tug ran aground off the coast, and Slett says she wants vessels regulated out of her community's waters for good.

"Indigenous communities bear the highest risk from marine shipping incidents, and it's time for our deep local knowledge and stewardship ethic to drive marine emergency response in the region," said Slett. "We look forward to implementing our proposal for an Indigenous Marine Response Centre with the support of all other levels of government and our neighbours."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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