Tug Boat Fuel Spill: Warnings Ignored


Warnings from local residents were ignored before a tugboat ran aground off the British Columbia Coast causing fuel to leak into the surrounding water, according to reports.

The tug boat ran aground and then sank whilst pushing an empty petroleum carrier, and subsequently sank releasing its 60,000 gallons of fuel into the sea; all crew members were rescued and taken to safety.

The Nathan E Stewart regularly transported up to 10,000 tonnes of petroleum through the area on its way to Alaska and was an accident waiting to happen, a video reporting locally has revealed.

As long as a year ago, the video reveals, residents had been publically expressing their concern regarding the vessels route, passing close to Bella Bella, which is a habitat for a population of Orcas now at risk from poisoning.

The Canada Shipping Act had banned tankers from passing through the region; however the tugs were exempt from the ruling.

Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, said:  “This is a stirring reminder that the north coast oil tanker moratorium cannot be legislated fast enough.

“We must take note, however, that tanker barges like this might not even be included in the ban. The band needs to be complete, and spill response must be improved.”

See the video, warning of the risks of the tug boat operating in the area, below:

Canadian authorities voiced their concern regarding the effects of shipping on whale populations earlier in September, 2016, when Port Metro Vancouver deployed a hydrophone listening station to monitor underwater vessel noise in the Strait of Georgia; the noise pollution had been identified as a key threat to at-risk whales.

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