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First Nations fear wildlife harmed by diesel spill on B.C. coast

The Canadian Press
More from The Canadian Press
Published on: October 29, 2016 | Last Updated: October 29, 2016 6:05 PM PDT

First Nations say they're afraid that diesel fuel spilled from a sunken tug off British Columbia's central coast is affecting their food supply and other wildlife. Stuart Davis / Vancouver Sun

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VANCOUVER — First Nations say they’re afraid that diesel fuel spilled from a sunken tug off British Columbia’s central coast is affecting their food supply and other wildlife.

They point to the discovery of dead animals in the area.

The tugboat Nathan E. Stewart was carrying over 200,000 litres of diesel when it ran aground and sank about 28 kilometres from Bella Bella on Oct. 13.

An aerial view of the Nathan E. Stewart tug, which went aground spilling diesel fuel into waters claimed by the Heiltsuk Nation territory. [PNG Merlin Archive]

An aerial view of the Nathan E. Stewart tug, which went aground spilling diesel fuel into waters claimed by the Heiltsuk Nation territory.  Marilyn Slett / PNG

A situation report says the volume of the spill is still being calculated based on what has been recovered or cleaned up, but current estimates show 105,000 litres of fuel leaked.

The report says wildlife assessment teams have spotted a dead humpback whale, a seal, a sea otter and crabs in the past week.

Kelly Brown, director of the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department, says it is “disturbing” to see the community’s food and marine life being so severely affected.

But the situation report says no wildlife covered in oil or fuel have been documented, and some of the dead species have been collected for testing to determine what specifically caused their death.

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