The Heiltsuk investigation, based on information from first responders, Coast Guard and Unified Command reveals a lack of spill response materials; ineffective booms and delays in deploying them; a lack of safety instructions and gear for Heiltsuk first responders exposed to diesel and dangerous marine conditions; and confusion over who was in charge in the early hours of the spill.
The report also documents failed attempts by the Heiltsuk to gain access from authorities to the vessel’s logbook, black box, crew statements, crew training records, barge history and other critical information.
“I was appalled at the responses from the federal and provincial governments to this oil spill”, said North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice. “As soon as I heard about the spill I was on my way out to do my part to help the Heiltsuk Nation”.
“What I saw was not a world-class response to an oil spill; what I saw was chaos where the governments of Canada and British Columbia were ill-prepared to respond to a spill like this in a location as remote as the central coast”.
More than 110 thousand litres of diesel and other contaminants spilled into the water and have hurt the livelihoods of community members and are expected to have an extended negative effect on the fisheries for years to come.
“At a time when the Heiltsuk are trying to recover, trying to get answers to questions about the spill, the authorities have been uncooperative”, said Rice. “We still don’t know basic answers to questions such as why did the tug go off course”?
To read the full report on the Nathan E. Stewart spill: https://www.nes-investigation.org/