Sunken tanker will not have diesel pumped out
by Alan Harten
March 30, 2009
Mark Butler of the Halifax Ecology Action Centre said yesterday that 70,000 litres of diesel should be pumped from the barge, Shovel Master, before it damages the marine environment.
The Shovel Master was under tow to Halifax from Saint John, when it went down back on November 22nd off Yarmouth in severe weather.
The owners, Atlantic Towing commissioned two separate reports, which both said that the wreck and the diesel are not environmental hazards.
A government committee concurred with the two reports that slow fuel leaks from the wrecked barge spread over many years would not damage the marine environment.
Atlantic Towing was also instructed to tell local fishermen about the site of the wreck.
The government’s Regional Environmental Emergency Team ordered Atlantic Towing Ltd, on Wednesday, to develop a plan stating how it will supervise the wreck.
The barge is in nearly 150 metres of water, and is upside down.
The company was also instructed to submit a plan by October 1st to clear the fuel if it all suddenly escaped from the barge.
Joe Éclair, from the Coast Guard emergency response section said that it is likely that over many years there will be a very slow but continuing leak of diesel.
Butler further said it is not wise to leave the fuel in the wreck and it is a flawed precedent.
He believes it is a potentially disastrous response to an oil discharge that will definitely occur and that it is important to prevent the diesel contaminating the environment immediately.
Is diesel fuel no longer regarded as toxic, he asked, and said this decision gives the wrong message to people working in the marine industry.
He also expressed his concern that the probable negligence of the towing company has not been addressed.
The sinking of the barge may have been accidental or it may have been avoidable, he said.
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