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UPDATE: Diesel spill clean-up continues in Esquimalt Harbour

Public asked to avoid water and shoreline areas near spill
Members of Western Canada Marine Response Corporation perform a low-pressure shoreline flush along Plumper Bay off Esquimalt Nation territory. The flush pumps water into an area within a containment boom so the diesel spilled into the bay can more easily be skimmed from the top of the water.

Clean-up efforts continue in and around Esquimalt Harbour. After high winds early Sunday morning a spud barge – named for the type of pilings it uses – broke free from its mooring and ran aground in Plumper Bay on the Esquimalt First Nation. It was estimated the barge contained up to 40,000 litres of diesel.

“We’ve been working around the clock every since,” said Michael Lowry, Western Canada Marine Response Corp. spokesperson. He noted the harbour master was able to put containment booms around the barge and at the mouth of Plumper Bay and credits that quick reaction for helping to limit the spread of the spill.

As of Tuesday night, Lowry said, the estimated fuel recovered was 27,000 litres. That material will be disposed of at an approved facility. At that time, crews were dealing with the on-water portion of the spill, which has now been completed. Operations shifted to the shoreline late Tuesday.

“So far the impact on wildlife has been limited,” he said, adding “there will be ongoing sampling of the site.”

Vancouver Pile Driving, owner of the barge, has assumed command of spill-response operations, with Western Canada Marine Response Corp. engaged to handle marine clean-up and Quantum Murray brought in to assist with shoreline clean-up. Focus Wildlife has also been contracted to assist with wildlife assessment, which are ongoing. Representatives from the B.C. Ministry of Environment are also monitoring the situation.

The Ministry of Environment said in a statement that the barge has been temporarily repaired.

On Tuesday, Island Health called for people to avoid the water and shoreline in the Plumper Bay area, while Fisheries and Oceans Canada put a prohibition on harvesting all fish species from Esquimalt Harbour in the wake of the spill.

If members of the public see any wildlife in distress in the area, they are asked to call 1-877-323-3985.