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SOURCE: The Narwhal

DATE: April 24, 2020

SNIP: Crews are responding to a spill of an estimated 4,500 litres of diesel off the coast of Haida Gwaii, B.C.

The spill was reported to the province at 8:11 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

A valve feeding diesel to an electrical generator on a barge failed overnight on April 22, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., causing fuel to leak onto the deck and into the water near the mouth of Dinan Bay (Diinan Kahlii), according to Taan Forest, the local forest products company responsible for the spill.

aan Forest, which is owned by the Haida nation, is taking the lead in managing the spill by doing preventive work to protect the mouths of nearby rivers, especially those where sockeye salmon are expected to return, Jason Alsop (Gaagwiis), elected president of the Haida, told The Narwhal.

“There’s a lot of concern with any contaminants that go into the ocean or any risks to our river system, to our salmon and food,” he said.

Biologists will be on site collecting ongoing samples of water, soil and marine life to assess impacts and target clean-up efforts, which will likely last weeks.

Karen Wristen, executive director of Living Oceans Society, said diesel spills are common along the B.C. coast and although this one is minor in comparison to catastrophic incidents on waters in the past, it doesn’t mean its impacts won’t be felt.

“Because [diesel] floats on the surface almost entirely, any creature that uses the surface of the water could be impacted, so the concern would be for feathered friends and for insects that are hatching off,” she said. “It may interfere with herring spawn if they had been so fortunate to have any.”