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article imageBiodiesel spill at BC fish farm threatens traditional food source

By Karen Graham     Mar 6, 2017 in Environment
B.C. First Nations are worried about possible damage to local clam beds from a diesel fuel spill at a fish farm off the northern coast of Vancouver Island.
CTV News is reporting that Bob Chamberlin, the elected chief councilor Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation says the area's clam beds are a critical source of food for the community.
"When you look at it, I think, 'Good golly.' It's going to have an impact on our traditional food source. And it's going to have a significant impact on the environment," he said.
According to CBC News, Fisheries and Oceans Canada ((DFO) says the Coast Guard was notified at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning by fish farm employees about a strong smell of diesel. Further investigation found that a fuel pump had been left on overnight, causing an estimated 900 to 1,000 liters of diesel fuel to overflow into the fish pens.
The sheen on the waters outside the confines of the fish pens is clearly seen in this photo.
The sheen on the waters outside the confines of the fish pens is clearly seen in this photo.
Chief Bob Chamberlain
Cermaq Canada, a salmon farming company in British Columbia, issued a statement Sunday confirming the spill at the Burdwood Fish Farm: "Spill pads and booms were immediately employed and the quick actions by the staff assisted in minimizing the impact on the environment. Marine spill experts are now on site directing the remaining activities."
Cermaq Canada is saying the spill has been "contained within the fish pens," and absorbent pads have been left in place. They add the fish appear to be "behaving normally." However, Chamberlain says video footage taken from a helicopter tells a different story — fuel has spread well beyond the confines of the fish farm.
Chamberlain added that the community was opposed to the fish farm from the very start, fearing it would be a threat to the environment. "To have, either through a lack of training or a lack of diligence on the farm, to have an accident such as this on the farm, it's utterly unacceptable. And there needs to be a very high level of accountability here."
Chamberlain has been keeping the public updated using his Twitter account. A number of images he has posted on Twitter clearly show the fuel sheen spreading from the fish farm into the surrounding waters.
More about diesel spill, Burdwood Fish Farm, echo bay BC, clam beds, First nations
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