(Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

(Andrew Hudson/Haida Gwaii Observer)

Crews plugging holes in grounded HaiCo barge

Crews are now patching the HaiCo barge that grounded on Lina Island Saturday night and putting boom around sensitive habitats nearby.

The floating Westcoast Resorts barge came loose from its mooring at Alliford Bay in a storm on Saturday and drifted about 10 km into Skidegate Inlet before grounding high on the rocky eastern shore of Lina Island, which is in view of Queen Charlotte.

The Canadian Coast Guard is warning everyone to stay at least 300 metres away in all directions.

A “small” amount of fuel sheen was seen on the water Tuesday, but so far responders don’t expect any significant environmental damage. Crews are now taking samples for pollution testing at a lab in the Lower Mainland.

The Tasu I barge has about 18,000 litres of gasoline and 15,000 litres of diesel on board.

Until Wednesday morning, too much potentially explosive gas vapour was trapped inside the barge for crews to work on it safely. After venting it, they got the green-light to start working on the outside of the barge, patching the holes left by the grounding.

However, the air quality is still too poor for workers to go inside the vessel, and all are working with gas masks and air-quality monitors on.

RELATED: Crews testing for gas vapours in grounded Haida Gwaii barge

Morey Maslak, general manager of Haida Tourism LP, said for now crews are using expanding foam and other materials to “cold patch” the barge so it won’t leak any fuel. Until it’s pumped dry of fuel, it’s not safe for crews to do any of the welding or mechanical work that will be needed to make it seaworthy again.

Maslak said the barge was pushed well above the high-tide line on Saturday, and as a failsafe it is also secured by a pair of mooring lines.

“Essentially, the barge is not going to be able to move off the beach without any help,” he said.

Asked how the barge was secured to its anchor buoy at Alliford Bay, Maslak said the usual mooring protocol was followed — it was secured with two mooring lines running into a shackle on the buoy.

A unified command is overseeing the incident with representatives of the Haida Nation, Village of Queen Charlotte, B.C. Environment Ministry, the Canadian Coast Guard and HaiCo, which owns the lodge.

HaiCo will be responsible for paying the cost of the response and cleanup.

With files from the Canadian Press



andrew.hudson@haidagwaiiobserver.com

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