British Columbia

Hydraulic oil spill in Nanaimo harbour closes Duke Point ferry terminal

The spill occurred on the Coastal Inspiration vessel, which is now laid up for repairs. BC Ferries says Duke Point sailings are being redirected to Departure Bay.

Duke Point sailings redirected to Departure Bay, BC Ferries says

BC Ferries says the spill originated on the Coastal Inspiration vessel mid-morning on Monday.

BC Ferries says there has been a hydraulic fluid spill at the Duke Point terminal in Nanaimo that is causing sailings to be redirected to a different terminal.

Director of fleet engineering Frank Camaraire says the spill came from the doors at the bow end of the Coastal Inspiration and resulted in an estimated 120 litres of fluid spilling into the ocean. The Nanaimo Harbour Authority estimated the time of the spill at 10:30 a.m. PT.

He says until harbour cleanup is completed, all sailings scheduled to or from Duke Point will be moved to Departure Bay. BC Ferries also advises the Queen of Alberni from Tsawwassen to Nanaimo is running 46 minutes behind schedule.

At 3:15 p.m., in an interview with On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko, Camaraire said the cleanup had been completed and BC Ferries was awaiting clearance from the Nanaimo Port Authority to begin normal operations.

Camaraire says in the meantime, foot passengers or passengers separated from vehicles at Duke Point are being provided with taxi rides to help them make their sailing.

"We're just trying to minimize the impact to our customers," he said.

Earlier in the day, two sailings on the Coastal Inspiration were cancelled: the 10:15 a.m. leaving from Duke Point and the 12:45 leaving Tsawwassen to Duke Point, due to mechanical issues.

Camaraire says all relevant authorities were notified about the spill and BC Ferries and the Nanaimo Port Authority were able to clean up the "majority" of it with booms, skimmers and absorbent pads.

Port authority spokesperson Rodney Grounds says they were able to get a vessel, stationed nearby on the scene in five minutes.

"We noticed an emulsification of oil and water coming up to the surface and rainbowing," he said. "It involved quite an area at the time of the initial assessment due to the propeller wash.

"We were worried it was going to impact on the Nanaimo River Estuary, but the present wind and tide conditions, the current has the non-contained oil heading out to Snake Island and Gabriola."

Camaraire says Coastal Inspiration, built in 2008 in Germany, has never had an issue like this before.

The 160-metre, 310-car capacity ship has since undergone repairs and passed inspection. It departed Tsawwassen at 7:42 p.m.

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast