Heiltsuk First Nation fears wildlife affected by diesel spill on B.C. coast
Response team collects dead species to test for cause of death
The Heiltsuk First Nation says it's afraid that diesel fuel spilled from a sunken tug off British Columbia's Central Coast is affecting wildlife and the food supply of its people.
It points to the discovery of dead animals in the area.
The tugboat Nathan E. Stewart was carrying more than 200,000 litres of diesel when it ran aground and sank about 28 kilometres from Bella Bella on Oct. 13.
- Coast Guard chief defends response to sunken tug in B.C.
- Booms fixed after wind spreads diesel fuel from tug sunk near Bella Bella
- Bella Bella diesel spill response questioned by Heiltsuk First Nation Chief after booms fail
A situation report says the volume of the spill is still being calculated based on what has been recovered or cleaned up, but current estimates show 105,000 litres of fuel leaked.
<a href="https://twitter.com/SalishSeaFuture">@SalishSeaFuture</a> Yes. It's there, it's shifting with the tides, it's still hitting new beaches, it's popping up in new locations...—@heiltsukvoice
The Heiltsuk First Nation says humpback whales, sea otters and marine birds continue to be spotted near, and in, the sheen, while wildlife assessment teams have spotted a dead seal and dead crabs in the past week.
The situation report says some of the dead species have been collected for testing to determine what specifically caused their death.
On Oct. 24, the report said that a rhinoceros auklet — a puffin-like bird — had been seen to be visibly impacted by the fuel.
Kelly Brown, director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, says it is "disturbing" to see the community's food and the marine life appear to be so severely affected.
Launches investigation into the grounding of the tug Nathan E. Stewart and tanker barge DBL 55 in BC <a href="https://t.co/6FVwNtpPpY">https://t.co/6FVwNtpPpY</a>—@TSBCanada
- An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that a sea otter had been found dead as a result of the spill. In fact, the unified command for the incident at Bella Bella says it has not received any reports of a dead sea otter.Oct 31, 2016 5:15 AM PT