British Columbia

4,500 litres of diesel fuel spilled in Haida Gwaii inlet

The Canadian Coast Guard has confirmed thousands of litres of diesel fuel were spilled into waters off the coast of Haida Gwaii this week.

Spill occurred after fuel transfer on forestry company barge failed early Wednesday, coast guard says

File photo of Haida Gwaii. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

The Canadian Coast Guard has confirmed thousands of litres of diesel fuel were spilled into the waters of a Haida Gwaii inlet this week.

In a statement Friday, a coast guard spokesperson said that Haida Gwaii-based company Taan Forest was responsible for the spill in Dinan Bay, which connects to Masset Inlet. 

The incident happened sometime between midnight and 5 a.m. P.T. on Wednesday, when an automated fuel transfer system on a barge malfunctioned, the statement said.

A statement from the company on Thursday said a valve feeding diesel into an electrical generator failed on its Toba Barge and spilled diesel onto the deck. 

"Consequently, an estimated 4,500 litres of diesel leaked onto the deck of the barge and into the ocean near the dry land sort," the statement said.

Taan Forest said the spill was near the mouth of the bay and because diesel is "non-persistent" it dissipates rapidly.

Taan Forest said booms and sorbent pads had been deployed as soon as the spill was discovered Wednesday, and by Thursday, half of the spill had dissipated or evaporated.

But it also said a "full plume" is expected to last until Sunday.

The Coast Guard said it has established an incident command post and the spill response is being monitored in co-ordination with Taan Forest and the Council of the Haida Nation, as well as Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Officials will continue checking samples of water, soil and marine life to assess impacts, and to target clean-up efforts.

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