Official cites communication problems with tug after BC grounding

Waves Crashing Over Boom Near Sunken Nathan E Stewart

(BELLA BELLA, British Columbia) — The head of Canada's Coast Guard said there were problems communicating with the tugboat Nathan E. Stewart after it ran aground near Gale Passage on Oct. 13, but that it's too soon to know if they contributed to the severity of the diesel spill from the vessel, CBC News reported.

"There had been some significant issues in communicating with the tug," Jody Thomas said during a visit to the spill site Friday. She also said deploying containment boom at night "on a reef with wind and a swell — it was difficult work."

First responders from the local Heiltsuk Nation told CBC News they believe the spill could have been mitigated if the Kirby Corp. tug could have been pulled away from the shoreline so that it wasn't repeatedly hitting rocks in heavy swells, but they said the crew resisted. "They (the crew) said the tug hadn't been breached and the barge hadn't been breached," Thomas said.

The empty fuel barge that the tug had been escorting has been moved to a dry dock in Vancouver, but the tug continued to leak diesel on Monday as more fuel was removed.

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By Professional Mariner Staff