Oil spill investigation update – December 21st 2007

Unusually benign winter weather conditions during the past 3 weeks have assisted the underwater investigation of  the aftermath of the tragic August 20th oil spill in Robson Bight.  A mini sub operated by Nuytco Research (http://www.nuytco.com) under government contract has located and documented (in high resolution video) all the equipment that fell 350m to the ocean floor when a barge dumped its load into the orcas’ Ecological Reserve.  The full list of equipment can be seen on the Living Oceans Society web site (http://www.livingoceans.org/newsevents/clippings2.shtml) which also details the course of the investigation.

Crucial among the items discovered was a tanker truck laden with 10,000 litres of diesel fuel when it sank.  The tanker landed upright and is sitting in sediment up to its axles.  Both ends of the fuel tank buckled in under pressure and have a concave appearance.  It will take careful examination of the video record to determine whether the tank still contains diesel fuel.   We are unlikely to hear the results of this assessment until the New Year.  A copy of the video has been promised to Living Oceans, so NGOs will have an opportunity to conduct independent reviews of the evidence.

Because all the equipment has been located, cleaning up the mess at the bottom of Robson Bight, by removing the equipment and assorted debris, has become a practical matter.  There is no reason why the current investigation phase cannot be followed quickly by a cleanup phase, so that when the orcas return to their “core habitat” next summer, they will find the waters of Robson Bight as welcoming as they were before the spill.

Thanks to Living Oceans Society for the photos.

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