Dead wildlife near Bella Bella diesel spill 'disturbing'
On Oct. 13, the Nathan E. Stewart tug ran aground in the Seaforth Channel causing diesel to leak. (Heiltsuk Nation/Kyle Artelle)
The discovery of dead and distressed wildlife around the diesel spill near Bella Bella is causing concern in the Heiltsuk First Nation community.
On Oct. 13, the Nathan E. Stewart tug ran aground in the Seaforth Channel, about 20 kilometres west of Bella Bella while carrying more than 200,000 litres of diesel and the cleanup response was criticized by the BC NDP.
A dead humpback whale, seals, crabs, and a sea otter have been reported in the last week, according to the Heiltsuk First Nation. Crabs are a vital source of food for the community and the commercial crab fishery in the area was shut down following concern for the population.
A distressed deer seen in Gale Creek apparently ingested diesel since deer often lick salt off rocks and seaweed.
“I’m not happy with the images and reports I’m getting from the spill zone. It’s disturbing to see our food and marine life being so severely impacted,” said Kelly Brown the director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department in a release.
Humpback whales, sea otters and marine birds have been seen in and around the oil sheen.
Current estimates show that 105,000 litres of fuel leaked from the tug. On Friday oil containment booms were washed into disarray and diesel continued to seep from the wreck.
The Minister of State for Emergency Preparedness Naomi Yamamoto visited the Heiltsuk community yesterday but the First Nation said the minister’s jurisdiction is limited.
With files from the Canadian Press