Bella Bella Diesel Spill Destroys Local Clam Beds

Speak Up For Blue Podcast

A diesel spill has devastated a first nations community. It was a small spill, but was it predicting the future?

A tug boat was pushing a fuel barge in British Columbia near Great Bear Forest when it ran aground and sank in 9 metres of water. The diesel fuel (over 200,000 GA worth) spilled into the coastal ocean from the tug boat and spread quickly.

The nearby First Nations group of Bella Bella are working tirelessly to stop the diesel fuel from reaching the coast; however, 3 beaches have already been closed due to contamination. The clam bed, on which the tribe relies to get them through the winter will not be harvested due to contamination from the diesel fuel. The effects of this spill is devastating for the short term and may have longer term effects; however, this spill is considered small. It had a massive impact on a remote community that can only be accessed either by boat or plane.

This was 1 boat and a relatively small one at that. Luckily, the fuel barge was empty or else this incident would have been worse.

The Bella Bella community are frustrated by the lack of spill response by the provincial and federal government. Meanwhile, the provincial government is pointing the finger at the federal government. Both levels of government are in favour of adding a pipeline to the province to ship oil and gas to Asian markets.

The real questions here are:

1) What is the spill response procedure?
2) What will happen when the pipeline is implemented and running (more shipping); and,
3) Is there a plan for environmental emergencies in the future and when will it be implemented.

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Links mentioned in this episode:

  • According to the most recent update provided by the U.S. company, two of the tug’s fuel tanks were breached. The vessel is still partially submerged in nine metres of water. The company said adverse weather is complicating cleanup efforts.

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