A 112-year-old tugboat that sank near the government dock in Squamish, B.C. on Tuesday spilled up to 1,500 litres of diesel fuel into the waters of Mamquam Blind Channel.

Tugboat elf

According to the website tugboatinformation.com, the Elf was built in 1902 in Tacoma. (Tugboatinformation.com)

Officials are on the scene assessing the situation, using booms and absorbents to contain whatever fuel they can. The Coast Guard expects waves will break up any of the fuel that did manage to spread.

Still, local environmentalists are concerned about what affect the spill might have on local fish stocks.

"It's going to have some long-term effects, any fuel spill, any oil spill," says John Buchanan, a member of the Squamish Streamkeepers Society, which has been working to reestablish herring in the area. 

"It leaves behind a residue, it coats the substrates along the coastline — and those are the substrates that the herring spawn upon, so there's going to be mortalities."

Steen Larsen, co-owner of the sunken vessel, believes the "Elf" went down around 4:30 in the morning. He thinks the century-old tug was scuttled and is calling on the RCMP to investigate: "It looks to me and feels like it was sabotaged."

Larsen denies the "Elf" was in disrepair, claiming he had recently spent $125,000 in overhauls.

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