A response boat working to retrieve diesel from a sunken tug near Bella Bella has itself run into trouble.
Dylan Carter with the Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Centre says the craft took on water in rough seas earlier today.
“A small skiff associated with one of the landing barges at the scene was briefly swamped during salvage operations with one person on board. The boat and the person were both recovered. No injuries and no pollution were reported from that part of the incident.”
Earlier this week, crews began removing the remaining fuel aboard the Nathan E. Stewart, a U.S. registered tug that ran aground of Athlone Island, near the Great Bear Rainforest.
The latest incident report from the scene indicates roughly 88,000 litres have been pumped out of the craft, a little more than a third of the 200,000 litres it was carrying.
Kai Nagata with activist group Dogwood Initiative says today’s mission failed because the Florida-based response team aren’t familiar with local waters.
“Places are very far apart, the weather is unpredictable, a lot of these charts are not reliable, and so unless you have local pilots and know what you’re doing, the waters can be very treacherous.”
Nagata adds the response to the spill has been fraught with problems from the get go.
“They talk about world-class spill response. That was the quote from the minister on Monday and what we’re seeing up here is anything but. If you know the west coast and you understand the weather and just the realities of trying to move boats around here, these waters can be very treacherous as the crew at the Nathan E. Stewart found out.”
The cleanup effort was suspended yesterday afternoon and vessels removed from the area as a storm rolled into the area.
The Nathan E. Stewart is an Articulated Tug Barge (ATB), a 100 foot vessel that pushes a barge capable of carrying at least 5.5 million litres (35,000 barrels) of petroleum product.
The vessel regularly plies the inside passage, and was southbound from Alaska when it struck.
It was operating under a waiver from the Pacific Pilotage Association at the time which exempted it from having a Canadian pilot on board.
That waiver has since been rescinded.