Cleanup efforts kicked into full gear Nov. 15 now that the Nathan E. Stewart has been lifted from Heiltsuk waters to a salvage barge anchored in Norman Morrison Bay off Seaforth Channel near Bella Bella.
Unified Command said Monday the barge carrying the tug should be underway for Surrey as early as Thursday. Expected bad weather now raises concerns for Heiltsuk over safe transport of the dirty tug out of their territorial waters.
Dive teams are clearing a propeller and other tug debris from the seafloor while shoreline cleanup teams have doubled up and are checking for oil on beaches after a large amount of diesel was discharged from the salvaged tug late Monday. A Transport Canada NASP plan arrived Tuesday to assess how much additional diesel spilled during the operation.
Heiltsuk leadership remain skeptical of Premier Christy Clark’s visit to Buckingham Palace Tuesday to recognize the addition of the Great Bear Rainforest to the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. Heiltsuk say the Premier’s message promoting tourism to the Great Bear region ignores the reality of what their community has experienced for 34 long days of recovery efforts.
“One of our biggest issues with these kinds of agreements is that protection on paper doesn’t mean this area isn’t threatened. Premier Clark is out there promoting this idea that the Great Bear Rainforest is fully protected while the Heiltsuk are living with the reality of an oil spill in our territory. These agreements have to mean something,” says Heiltsuk On-Scene Commander Jess Housty.