Jake Shearer barge, rescue tug anchor in Norman Morison Bay


BELLA BELLA (NEWS 1130) – A barge packed with 3.5 million litres of diesel has arrived at Norman Morison Bay after being tugged safely away from the waters of Bella Bella.

The Canadian Coast Guard says there’s no indication of any pollution, but booms have been placed around the vessels as a precaution.

The barge broke away from its American tug boat in gale force winds Sunday afternoon, and drifted out of control for some time.

Assistant Commissioner Roger Girouard with the Canadian Coast Guard says it seems the worst case scenario has been avoided.

“We were obviously very concerned up until they got the anchor down,” he says.

There is no indication that any of the fuel has spilled, and the two people who were on board are safe.

The vessel is now awaiting inspection 24 kilometres northeast of Bella Bella.

Jenn Housty — a Heiltsuk First Nation councilor spoke to NEWS 1130 about the importance of the area where the tug was stranded.

“We harvest salmon and seaweed both for sustenance and our economy. There are also clam beaches that would be affected by any sort of spill out there. It’s also a route for migrating whales and home to a large population of sea otters,” said Housty, adding that the nearby Goose Island Banks is a historical Heiltsuk village site as well.

The First Nation has been pushing for an increased indigenous-led response capacity on BC’s central coast since the Nathan E Stewart ran aground last fall near Bella Bella, leaking 110,000 litres of diesel into Seaforth Channel.

“We are still monitoring the environmental effects in the channel. There is still a closure over the clam fishery and we are conducting our own, traditional testing. The vulnerability and the exposure remains the same today and underscores the need for an indigenous-wide response on the central coast,” says Slett.

“Our community is under high alert and we really see the need for things to change. Investment and training around the oceans protection plan in our communities can’t come soon enough.”

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