VICTORIA -Fish and clam harvesting areas off British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest remain closed one year after a tug sank near Bella Bella and spilled more than 100,000 litres of fuel into the ocean.
Heiltsuk First Nation Chief Marilyn Slett says her people are still looking for answers about the long-term health, social and economic impacts of the fuel spill but are getting little information from the B.C. and federal governments.
She says a Heiltsuk report last April found failures in Canada’s emergency response measures were evident within hours of the grounding of the Nathan E. Stewart on Oct. 13, 2016.
Slett says the lack of co-operation from governments and the tug boat company, Texas-based Kirby Corp., prompted the First Nation to launch its own investigation.
Joint reports say the tug went down when it ran aground while pushing an empty fuel barge through the waters off the central coast.
Neither the federal government nor Kirby Corp. were available for comment, while the B.C. government says in a statement that it wants to work with the First Nation in the effort to recover from the spill.
Environmental groups and other First Nations have said the tug’s sinking reflects the potential dangers of an environmental disaster off B.C.’s coast as tanker traffic is expected to increase with the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline.