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Explosion fears on barge

The Canadian Coast Guard says crews are working carefully to release gas that accumulated inside a barge carrying a fishing lodge that beached after it broke away from its anchorage at Haida Gwaii.

Westcoast Resorts' Hippa barge came loose from its mooring Saturday night and drifted for several hours toward Skidegate Inlet near the village of Queen Charlotte.

Canadian Coast Guard Incident Commander Tim McCann says crews inspected the barge hull Tuesday and used air quality monitors to ensure their safety because some potentially explosive gas is trapped in the body of the vessel from a possible ruptured fuel line.

John Kervel, incident commander with the B.C. Environment Ministry, says crews are also planning to open up hatches on the barge to create natural vents and will use forced air to ventilate the vessel.

Time and air quality permitting, McCann says they planned to secure the barge to the beach on Tuesday.

While no pollution was initially detected, a "small" amount of fuel sheen has appeared on the water, however Kervel says they do not believe there will be significant environmental impacts.

The ministry is working with Transport Canada on a salvage plan.

Kervel couldn't speculate on the likelihood of an explosion, but says trained personnel with appropriate equipment to deal with such a case are on scene.

A unified command is overseeing the incident with representatives of the Haida Nation, Village of Queen Charlotte, B.C. Environment Ministry, the Canadian Coast Guard and HaiCo, which owns the lodge.

HaiCo will be responsible for paying the cost of the response and cleanup.



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