Ucluelet’s Harbour Manager Kevin Cortes cleans up a small diesel spill at Ucluelet’s inner boat basin on Monday afternoon. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Small fuel spill at Ucluelet’s inner boat basin

“It’s fresh diesel, so it’s definitely got a stronger odour than regular spills.”

Locals living around Ucluelet’s inner boat basin woke to a strong smell of diesel fuel and rainbow patterns around shorelines Monday morning.

Ucluelet’s harbour manager Kevin Cortes was cleaning up spilled diesel fuel pooling in a corner of the dock around noon on Monday and estimated that roughly 10 litres of fuel had spilled into the ocean.

“It’s not big recovery, but anything I can pick out is one less drop of oil in the water, so I’ll just keep working as much as I can to get it collected,” Cortes told the Westerly News adding a source of the fuel was not known.

He said he smelled the spill when he showed up for work in the morning and went down to check the vessels, but did not hear any bilge pumping.

“If a vessel has fuel oil in the bilge, there’s a bilge pump and it would pump out. The most common spills are bilge pump spills. The bilge pumps, of course, are set up so the vessel doesn’t sink, but if it gets any contaminant in with it, it gets pumped into the water,” he said. “I have no evidence of that, so anything I would say on that is speculation.”

He said he went to his office to grab his spill-response pads and began cleaning up as much fuel out as he could.

“I started deploying them in the corner of the dock where the diesel spill was pooling and I’ve been cleaning it up ever since,” he said. “Because it’s diesel, I had to wait for it to pool to collect it, because it’s such a light oil. So, I waited for a tide change and the tide change brought all the fuel to the corner…Otherwise it’s just a rainbow and you can’t collect rainbow sheen in pads; it’s just too light.”

He said he has spoken with the Coast Guard’s Environmental Response team and is keeping them updated on the situation.

“I wouldn’t consider this even close to a major spill. It’s fresh diesel, so it’s definitely got a stronger odour than regular spills,” he said. “It rainbows out and, if you’re working on any of the resorts around us, you’ll definitely see the rainbow and, I think, that’s what people would have seen.”

He said this is roughly the second time a small spill has occurred at the inner boat basin this year.

“It’s not often,” he said. “It’s a rare occurrence to happen.”

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