Crews responding to diesel spill after fuel truck rolls off barge

Fuel truck rolls off barge

Several agencies have responded to a diesel leak after a fuel truck rolled off a barge last week off the east coast of Vancouver Island, near Sayward.

The incident happened, in Chancellor Channel, which runs between Hardwicke and West Thurlow island, in high evening winds on April 20. The channel includes a rockfish-conservation area.

There are 17,000 litres of diesel in the five tanks attached to the truck, and one has an intermittent leak. The affected tank holds 2,200 litres.

The Marine Link Transportation barge had set out from Menzies Bay to take a supply of fuel to a logging company operating on Hardwicke Island. The truck sank in about 36 metres of water.

A remotely operated underwater vehicle was used to locate the truck and observe fuel coming from one of the tanks, according to a joint statement issued Wednesday by the Canadian Coast Guard, Marine Link Transportation, the Ministry of Environment and the Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai and K’ómoks First Nations.

Divers surveyed the truck on the weekend and are making ongoing efforts to patch any leaks.

“The leaks appear to be intermittent and minimal, and that has been confirmed by dive teams and aerial observation,” the statement said. “The priority beyond safety is the safe retrieval of the fuel as soon as safe and practical, with the least possible release of diesel fuel into the marine environment.”

About 1,220 metres of booms have been deployed, and the coast guard has contingency plans specific to the area.

“Canada operates on the polluter-pay principle,” the statement said. “At this time, full co-operation in minimizing damage is the commitment we have from Marine Link Transportation.”

Marine Link has also contracted Western Canada Marine Response Corp., which is the Transport Canada-certified marine-spill response organization for the West Coast.

The statement said that the top priority is to safely retrieve the truck within the next 72 hours “and all efforts are focused on achieving that outcome with minimal release of diesel fuel into the marine environment.”

Further updates will be made after the retrieval. Pending that, the public and media have been asked to stay away from the area.

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