After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Efforts to pump fuel from sunken tug on B.C. central coast due to begin

A sunken tug on British Columbia's central coast near the Great Bear Rainforest is leaking diesel fuel. Photo by The Canadian Press.

Efforts to remove thousands of litres of diesel fuel from a sunken tug are expected to begin on British Columbia's central coast near the Great Bear Rainforest.

The process, called "hot tapping" is aimed at removing more than 200,000 litres of diesel fuel still aboard the Nathan E. Stewart, which ran aground on Oct. 13 while pushing an empty fuel barge at the mouth of Seaforth Channel, about 20 kilometres west of Bella Bella.

An oil skimming vessel, is also expected to reach the scene today as the tug sits under about nine metres of water and continues to seep fuel from its damaged starboard and central diesel tanks.

Fuel is bubbling up from the tug, but a report issued from the scene says it is being contained by a boom, while the exact amount of diesel spilled remains unconfirmed.

The report also says an oily sheen is escaping containment and Fisheries officials closed nearby shellfish harvesting on Friday.

The Heiltsuk Nation issued a news release calling 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," says Chief Councillor Marilyn Slett in the release.

Federal, provincial and Heiltsuk Nation representatives are working with Texas-based Kirby Corporation, the owners of the tug, to plug the leaking vessel, and expect to begin night operations in hopes of speeding up the process.

This comes as long-range weather reports show an approaching storm with winds of up to 90 kilometres per hour, due 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.

More in News

Views from a refugee camp: Who gets into heaven?

I have just returned to Vancouver Island from Greek refugee camps where I met a Yazidi man named Jason who told me about his escape from ISIS in Iraq.   His story begins on a desert road where a...

Vancouver's bicycle sharing grows as 15 new stations installed

Mobi bicycle by Shaw Go in Vancouver. Photo by Christopher Porter from Flickr Creative Commons

International Women's Day Concert celebrates female musicians who turned tragedy into triumph

Every March 8, on International Women's Day, we hear about the achievements of brilliant, talented women around the world. But how often do we learn about the physical and mental disabilities or...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.