Diesel Fuel Spilled of the Coast of British Columbia

The Canadian Coast Guard recently confirmed that 4,500 litres of diesel fuel was spilled on April 22nd in Haida Gwaii inlet off the coast of British Columbia.

In a statement, a coast guard spokesperson said that Haida Gwaii-based company Taan Forest was responsible for the spill in Dinan Bay, which connects to Masset Inlet.

The incident happened sometime between midnight and 5 a.m. P.T. on April 29th, a valve feeding diesel to the electrical generator failed on the Toba Barge owned by Taan Forest. Consequently, an estimated 4500 liters of diesel leaked onto the deck of the barge and into the ocean near the dryland sort.

Initial estimates from a National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) overflight found 1900L on the water, with over 50% evaporating and dissipating within the first 24 hours.

A statement from the company on said a valve feeding diesel into an electrical generator failed on its Toba Barge and spilled diesel onto the deck. “Consequently, an estimated 4,500 litres of diesel leaked onto the deck of the barge and into the ocean near the dry land sort,” the statement said.

Taan Forest said the spill was near the mouth of the bay and because diesel is “non-persistent” it dissipates rapidly. Taan Forest said booms and sorbent pads had been deployed as soon as the spill was discovered.

Following three days of intense spill response, clean-up efforts were then directed to shoreline monitoring and environmental sampling.  As of April 25, no diesel has been observed on the water with much of the spill dissipating, evaporating and being recovered by response crews. All deployed spill response gear has been collected for disposal in compliance with the Waste Management Plan.

The company made the commitment to continue sampling water, soil, and marine life to assess impacts and identify any further requirements for clean-up efforts.

The most recent incident shows the difference that local training and equipment can make in responding to spills. In this case, the Council of the Haida Nation said that they have been building up local capacity and are more prepared than they would have been in the past.

A virtual Unified Command (UC) continues to oversee the incident. UC includes representatives from HaiCo (Taan Forest), the Council of the Haida Nation, Canadian Coast Guard, and BC Ministry of Environment. Unified Command is also supported by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada. Due to Coronavirus (COVID19), on-island resources are being utilized on the ground and all meetings are occurring via teleconference.