Barge with 3.5M litres of diesel breaks free from tug by Goose Island
The Zidell Marine 277 broke away from its tug in high winds at about 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. (Google Maps)
The Canadian Press
Published Monday, November 27, 2017 8:08AM PST
Last Updated Monday, November 27, 2017 11:22AM PST
BELLA BELLA, B.C. -- Officials say a loaded fuel barge that broke away from its tug off British Columbia's central coast is now being towed to a safe location and no pollution has been observed.
Lt. Melissa Kia of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre says another tug, the Gulf Cajun, began towing the 128-metre barge on Monday.
A U.S.-registered tug boat, the Jake Shearer, was pushing the barge through Queen Charlotte Sound when it broke free southwest of Bella Bella on Sunday.
The centre says the barge is the Zidell Marine 277, and is loaded with 3.5 million litres of diesel and 468,000 litres of gasoline.
It says two crew members from the tug were able to board the barge, despite strong winds and rough seas, and they dropped an anchor off Goose Island.
Kia says both people are safe on board the barge.
The rescue co-ordination centre says winds have eased to about 37 kilometres per hour, with two-metre swells.
Tweets from members of the nearby Heiltsuk Nation say improved conditions were a relief but the band's members continued to monitor the situation.
Heiltsuk spokeswoman Jess Housty posted messages on social media saying they were responding with their best people who have experience from last year's sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart, which resulted in a spill of 110,000 litres of diesel.
"Reminder that a positive resolution, while desperately hoped for, will not make the horror of this unnecessary event irrelevant. Change is needed," Housty tweeted about the latest situation.
The rescue co-ordination centre said two Canadian Coast Guard vessels were at the scene.
A B.C. Environment Ministry spokesman said because there hasn't been a spill, federal officials were leading the response.
— Jess Housty (@heiltsukvoice) November 27, 2017
1/2 The Gulf Cajun tug arrived on scene at 7:40am PST & has est. a tow line. CCGS Bartlett is currently proceeding to the scene with Enviro. Response (ER) equipment. Addt’l ER equip. is also being mobilized by land to be nearby if necessary. No pollution observed. #jakeshearer pic.twitter.com/in4cUkLHFA— Canadian Coast Guard (@CCG_GCC) November 27, 2017