Cermaq’s Burdwood fish farm

UPDATED: 600 litres of fuel spills into ocean near Port McNeill

Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis Chief Bob Chamberlin says there needs to be a more streamlined approach to response


Black Press

Over the weekend 500-600 litres of bio-diesel fuel leaked into the ocean at Cermaq’s Burdwood fish farm, which is located in the Broughton Archipelago, 45 km northeast of Port McNeill.

“Cermaq highly regrets this incident and is putting together all resources necessary to minimize the impact on the surrounding areas,” the company announced in a news release. “We are reviewing our procedures to prevent this from happening again.”

A team of emergency response officers from the ministry of environment, Oceans and Fisheries Canada as well as representatives from Cermaq are currently working in Port McNeill to determine the best course of action to recover the diesel within the fish farms foot print.

During a fly-over of the area, incident commanders from the Canadian Coast Guard and the Ministry of Environment confirmed a discontinuous silver and rainbow sheen within a three-mile radius of the fish farm, according the Ministry of Environment’s web page. Fuel has made contact with some shorelines in the Burdwood Island group. Because it is nothing but a thin layer at this point, it has been deemed irrecoverable, according to the webpage.

The spill originated from a fuel transfer pump on the fish farm. According to a Cermaq release, booms and spill pads were immediately employed by the staff on site.

The coast guard performed a fuel reconciliation and determined closer to 600 litres and not the originally reported 1,500 litres was spilled.

Bob Chamberlin, elected Chief of the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis, said he is waiting to see the effect the spill will have on the clam beaches in the area.

“We are extremely disappointed that it happened in the first place,” he said. “To have this disperse into our territories is completely irresponsible.”

Chamberlin said he is also concerned with the response from the government.

“In this situation there needs to be a much more streamlined approach to the availability of equipment, appropriate leadership that is found at sites such as this and of course now our attention turns towards the impact to the environment,” he said.

MP Rachel Blaney called for the federal government to show leadership with a marine safety plan that strengthens preventative measures so that accidents like this no longer happen. She spoke in parliament Monday, calling for transparency and accountability.

“Canadians deserve to know what went wrong,” Blaney said in a news release. “The federal government must be fully transparent and accountable about their spill response. Coastal communities and the people who love this coast will live with the impacts of the most recent spill. The government’s actions and assessment should be shared right away with our communities.”

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