Canadian Coast Guard rescue mission prevents coastal disaster
May 2, 2023
By Zak Vescera, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A tanker truck carrying 17,000 litres of diesel has been successfully retrieved from coastal waters north of Campbell River after it fell off a barge in a storm.
K’ómoks Chief Ken Price said a mission led by the Canadian Coast Guard successfully extracted the truck from the Chancellor Channel Friday.
“Everyone agreed that we wanted the best results possible, and protecting these environmentally sensitive areas for future generations was very important for our nation,” said Price, who was part of the mission’s unified command team.
The extraction ended an eight-day effort to recover the truck after it fell off a barge going to a logging camp on April 20.
A Transportation Safety Board report obtained by The Tyee said the truck rolled off the barge Western Carrier in the channel while it was being hauled by the tugboat Risco Warrior.
Both vessels are owned by Marine Link Transportation, whose owner Guy Adams said strong winds were responsible for the truck’s fall.
Officials had estimated the truck was between 90 and 120 feet underwater before it was recovered on Friday.
Price said it was lifted to the surface by a heavy lift crane on a barge floating in the channel.
“We’re elated because it really proves that all the training our guardians have done over the years have paid off,” Price said.
The truck’s diesel was then pumped into another fuel truck to minimize the chance of pollution. The empty truck was then lifted out of the water and placed onto another barge.
“There was a group that stuck behind to assess the situation and complete any mop-up or anything that could have happened in order to reduce the amount or minimize the amount of environmental damage,” Price said.
One of five compartments on the fuel truck had begun to leak while it was underwater, but officials described it as “minimal” and “intermittent.”
The Canadian Coast Guard, in a statement, said there was also a “minor” release of fuel when the truck was extracted. Price said the level of environmental damage to the area was believed to be low.
A Transportation Safety Board official said there was no ongoing investigation into the matter. A previous statement from the Coast Guard’s unified command team said Marine Link had committed to paying for costs related to the sinking of the truck under Canada’s “polluter-pay” principle.
Price said the Coastal Guardian Watchmen, an Indigenous-led team stewarding B.C.’s waters, were a vital part of the mitigation effort.
Zak Vescera is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for The Tyee.
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