Diesel spill didn't have "serious impact"

Christine Wood/Staff Writer / Staff writer
February 1, 2014 01:00 AM

Diesel fuel that spilled into Sechelt Inlet on Jan. 18 caused a rainbow sheen to develop over much of the water, however it wasn't cause for concern, according to the Canadian Coast Guard.

"From the investigations at the site they determined it wasn't a serious impact," Canadian Coast Guard communications officer Dan Bate said, noting a crew from Powell River investigated the incident on Jan. 19.

The diesel fuel spilled into the water when a sunken barge was being brought up in Sechelt Inlet at the end of Kontiki Road.

"There was a caller who advised that some diesel had been released into the bay and that it was originating from a local marine outfit there, KinShip Maritime. They were in the process of salvaging their sunken barge. The area was boomed off. When they were originally contacted they advised that there was no pollution," Bate said.

"Then the duty officer tasked the Powell River lifeboat to attend and investigate, but due to the timing and the daylight hours the decision was made to send them first thing in the morning. They can't spot oil in the water at night."

He said that once the Coast Guard arrived on scene they found "two discharge hoses were pumping off the barge and they were outside the boomed area."

The boomed area is meant to catch any fuel or oil that might escape during the process, Bate explained.

"If it's not within the boom it will travel outside and it will travel quite a long distance. Diesel in particular spreads a very, very thin sheen on the surface of the water. Even say three litres of diesel fuel can travel for quite a distance. That's the situation which happened here," he said.

"We believe it was oily water. It did dissipate quite a fair ways and then evaporation and wind took over the rest of it and we're satisfied it didn't provide a significant risk, however we do know that some of the local residents were upset by what happened there."

Bate said the Coast Guard can't issue charges or fines so instead they talked to the owner of KinShip Maritime and "made him aware of his responsibilities," adding that KinShip "rectified the situation right away" by putting the discharge hoses back inside the boomed off area.

"We're satisfied with his efforts," Bate said.

He encourages members of the public to call the Coast Guard's marine pollution hotline if they see a possible pollutant in the water that needs attention.

The number to report marine pollution is 1-800-889-8852.

The owner of KinShip Maritime did not return requests for comment by press time.

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