British Columbia

Heiltsuk Nation given $250,000 toward fuel spill clean-up costs

A First Nation impacted by a fuel spill on the B.C. coast received the money six days after the 30-foot tug went town.

Removal of fuel from the sunken tug resumed Wednesday

The tug boat ran aground and sank near British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest on Oct. 13. (Western Canada Marine Response Corp/The Canadian Press)

A First Nation impacted by a fuel spill on the B.C. coast has received $250,000 from the company owning the tugboat that ran aground in its territory last week.

The money was transferred to the Heiltsuk Nation on Wednesday afternoon from the U.S. company Kirby Offshore Marine.

The assistant commissioner for the Western Region of the Canadian Coast Guard, Roger Girouard, originally said  on Tuesday that $100,000 was in a bank account for the Heiltsuk Nation to help with the cleanup.

But Marilyn Slett, the chief councillor of the Heiltsuk Nation, said Wednesday morning it had yet to receive any money from the company and negotiations for compensation were still underway.

At the time, Slett said the tribal council had been covering its own expenses. However, the First Nation confirmed late Wednesday funds had been transferred.

Hot tapping resumes

The 30-metre tug went down last Thursday morning when it ran aground while pushing a barge through the waters off Bella Bella.

Slett said a break in the weather has allowed the clean-up crew to resume removing fuel from the submerged tug on Wednesday. But the job is expected to take another 60 hours to complete before the tug can be moved.

There's concern wind and waves from an approaching storm could shift the vessel as it sits in nine metres of water. Environment Canada indicates the strongest winds aren't due to hit until Wednesday afternoon or evening.

More than 88,000 of the estimated 200,000 litres of diesel had been pumped from the tanks of the Nathan E. Stewart by late Tuesday afternoon.

Slett say fuel from the tug has already fouled vital clam beds in the channel, and Slett said people are out monitoring the impact.

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