British Columbia

Clean-up efforts in Squamish, B.C., continue weeks after powerful windstorm

It's been weeks since the large windstorms wreaked havoc on B.C.'s South Coast in late December, but officials are still working to clean up much of the damage.

December's extreme windstorm along the South Coast caused substantial damage

A Coast Guard vessel beside the ex-fishing vessel La Rata Bastarda, one of the five vessels that the Coast Guard removed from the marine environment Thursday. (Canadian Coast Guard)

It's been weeks since the large windstorms wreaked havoc on B.C.'s South Coast on Dec. 20, but officials are still working to clean up much of the damage.

In Squamish, coast guard officials have been dealing with several aging boats in Darrell Bay that have sunk or ended up against the rocks. 

Squamish conservationist and amateur oceanographer John Buchanan called it "a nightmare of a mess of boats down there."

Buchanan says a historical tug boat, the J.S. Polhemus, built in the 1930s is sitting under 100 feet [around 30 metres] of water leaking fuel. 

"It's a big historical loss," he said. 

The coast guard has been working to mitigate the damage. 

The coast guard's environmental response deputy-superintendent, Jeff Brady, said his unit has been working on multiple different responses since the storm, from the safety of civilians to environmental cleanup.

There is a team working in Darrell Bay to deal with the unmoored boats and the sunken J.S. Polhemus.

"We had divers on scene for two days," Brady said. "Unfortunately, it sank and fell down to a deeper depth. We're just working on a plan to continue on an assessment."

Brady said the fuel leakage isn't a great concern at this time, as he estimates the tug is only leaking about 10 litres a day and in a direction away from a sensitive estuary.

On a more positive note, he said the coast guard had previously worked to pump out a lot of oil from the vessel over a year ago.

He says boat owners can prepare for future storms by having proper insurance, checking their moorings frequently, properly securing their vessel before the storm, after the storm or any time in between, as well as ensuring their vessel's scuppers or drains are free from any types of debris or buildup.

"Prevention is so important," Brady said. 

Listen to the interview on CBC's The Early Edition:

With files from The Early Edition


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