Nfld. & Labrador

Company responsible for fuel spill off Newfoundland says it's working to mitigate impact

The owner of the MV Alaskaborg, a cargo vessel that accidentally discharged 30,000 litres of fuel into the waters off Newfoundland, says it is working with Canadian authorities to mitigate the effects of the accident.

30,000 litres of fuel discharged over 12½ hours

The MV Alaskaborg, which spilled fuel off Newfoundland's coast, is berthed in St. John's harbour. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

The owner of a cargo ship that dumped fuel into the waters south of Newfoundland says it is working to mitigate the impact of its accidental spill.

The MV Alaskaborg, owned by Dutch company Royal Wagenborg, discharged 30,000 litres of fuel Thursday. 

In an update Saturday night, the Canadian Coast Guard said the spill occurred over a period of 12½ hours and a distance of 175 nautical miles.

In an emailed statement to CBC, Royal Wagenborg said it has developed a plan using two vessels with pollution response equipment and land-based teams to conduct shoreline assessments in the area.

The company said while the spill occurred "as a result of an emergency bilge operation of the cargo hold" amid rough weather, the "exact circumstances of this incident are unknown."

The company said it will work with Canadian authorities and emergency response contractors to mitigate the environmental impact of the accident.

"Our crew took immediate action to prevent a further outflow of the oily water and we are thankful there were no injuries," the statement read.

Crews monitoring spill area

The MV Alaskaborg was en route to Rotterdam from Baie-Comeau, Que., when the incident occurred.

According to a statement from the company, the spill was discovered after daylight on Thursday morning and the incident was immediately reported to authorities in Canada and the Netherlands.

The ship was then escorted to St. John's harbour by a coast guard vessel, arriving Friday night in St. John's, where it remains berthed since.

The MV Alaskaborg discharged some 30,000 litres of fuel into the water. (Francesca Swann/CBC)

The coast guard said Saturday night that an environmental response team had returned to the area to "monitor implementation of the owner's response plan and respond if required."

"In Canada, it is the ship owner's responsibility to develop and implement an appropriate pollution response plan," the statement read, saying the owner of the MV Alaskaborg had been cooperative and proactive in responding to the incident.

The coast guard said surveillance flights showed "light sheens in some areas, indicating evaporation and degradation of the oil slick," and that poor weather conditions may cause additional dispersion of the oil in the water.

No shoreline damage has been noted to date, the statement read, and water samples have been taken for analysis.

The coast guard has also notified mariners in the area and asked that they report any observations.

The Canadian Coast Guard said it has received a report of an oiled turr in the area of the spill.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


Kyle Mooney is a journalist and musician living in St. John's.

With files from Terry Roberts


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