With files from Jeremy Lye
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has confirmed it is now looking into a tug running aground near Bella Bella, spilling around 200,000 litres of diesel fuel into the entrance to Seaforth Channel.
Both the Federal and the Provincial governments have been slammed for its response to the spill, which has seen another response vessel swamped by the rough conditions
Responders have also struggled to keep a containment boom operating.
The TSB’s Eric Collard says their investigation has launched today, but adds they’ve been working behind the scenes as well.
“There are a couple of stages for us, part of it is just getting information and as we get more information, whether we’re on scene or not, we can still make a decision to investigate.”
Meanwhile, less than half of the fuel lost has reportedly been recovered when the tug Nathan E. Stewart ran aground with an empty fuel barge.
Changes to Pacific Pilotage Authority regulations
The vessel itself was southbound from Alaska when it struck and was operating under a waiver from the Pacific Pilotage Association (PPA) at the time, which exempted it from having a Canadian pilot on board.
Now, the PPA has announced new and interim measures for waiver exemptions moving forward.
There will also be new route restrictions in place for all vessels transporting petroleum products through all compulsory areas; the new regulations will not apply to ships carrying to remote locations.
This puts specific areas off limits for vessels carrying petroleum products, and outlines specific routes that must be followed in poor weather conditions.
Nathan E. Stewart not the only tug with PPA exemptions
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.
It’s owned by Texas-based Kirby Offshore, and not the only ATB that has been operating under a PPA exemption waiver and potentially carrying petroleum products.
Kirby Offshore have seven vessels and Olympic tug and Barge (another U.S. company) have two vessels that are operating under a waiver to travel through B.C.’s coast without a Canadian pilot on board, according to the PPA.