A fishing vessel recently created a smelly stir in Ucluelet when a crew member accidentally dumped diesel fuel into the ocean.
Ucluelet’s Harbour Master Kevin Cortes told the Westerly News that the vessel was parked at a privately owned dock when the spill occurred on Jan 30.
“The vessel was out fishing and, with the rough weather, was coming in…[A crew member] realized he had a major list to his boat,” Cortes said. “Then he realized there was a hole.”
The hole was at a ballast tank, which needed to be emptied before the hole could be welded shut.
“In the starboard stern tank there was water in the ballast and the opposite side of the stern tank had fuel in it…A little bit of the diesel from the port side got into the starboard side and he did not realize that when he dumped it,” Cortes said.
He said he was alerted to the spill by the Canadian Coast Guard, but did not have a location for the vessel until he noticed fuel coming out of the harbour during his early morning rounds at the Whiskey Dock on Jan. 30 and followed the spill to the vessel.
“The source had already stopped by the time I got to the boat,” he said.
Cortes said he spoke with the engineer working on the vessel and was satisfied that no further fuel was leaking, but was then contacted by a concerned resident who reported an accumulation of diesel at a Hyphocus Island shoreline, so Cortes and the engineer brought absorbent pads to the site to clean it up.
“There was not a whole lot of accumulation, but there was a smell,” Cortes said. “So, him and I went down there and spent an hour-and-a-half or so mopping it up with pads and pretty much got most of it.”
He added he spoke with the Canadian Coast Guard, which conducted a fly-over of the area when the weather cleared up a few days later.
He said the amount of diesel spilled is not known, but suggested Ucluelet’s harbour sees similar sized spills roughly twice a year. He said the vessel is a regular of Ucluelet’s trawl fishery, but he does not foresee any future incidents.
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