Marie Lake hatchery threatened by spill

  • Jun. 22, 2005 11:00 a.m.

by Heather Ramsay–The fate of the hatchery at Marie Lake is tenuous according to John Disney, the economic development officer with the Old Massett Village Council which is responsible for the programs there.
He says the hatchery, which has had $4-million invested in it over the last 25 years, may have to move, only months after $120,000 was invested in expanding it.
On June 15, a diesel tanker operated by North Arm Transportation of Masset crashed and spilled 14,800 litres of fuel just 80 metres from the lake, and crews have been scrambling since to clean up the mess.
Mr. Disney is also sceptical about the state of the clean-up taking place. On Sunday, he visited the area and took pictures of diesel dyed a fluorescent pink flowing through the bush.
“What I saw, I would have expected to see on day one (after the spill), not day five,” he says.
He thinks the whole forested area is saturated with diesel.
“It’s like a massive sponge,” he says.
The clean-up crew is spraying the area with hoses and flushing the diesel into the lake, a strategy Mr. Disney thinks will lead to the slow death of Marie Lake.
“In my unprofessional opinion, that lake is toast,” he says.
The hatchery is relatively unscathed now, but Mr. Disney did notice oil smeared on the water beside and under the floats they use.
Since the spill was on the other side of the lake and the hatchery is at the outflow, it is only a matter of time before the contaminants spread throughout the water table, he says.
Christina Engel with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Queen Charlotte said she’s waiting to see what kind of decontamination efforts are made, and if any oil is left afterwards, “because this stuff just doesn’t disappear.” “It is a rearing facilityÂ…and I would have to know that there was no possibility of future issues with fish kill in case they didn’t clean it all up,” she said. “If we do end up having to move, then that’s what we have to do. For us the fish come first. You cannot take little creatures and put them in a toxic environment,” she said.
When Mr. Disney visited the site, the only people around were North Arm employees and the environmental clean-up crew hired by the company.
“Where is the Ministry of Environment or the Council of the Haida Nation?” he asked.
He wants to see baseline water samples taken and long-term monitoring.
In the meantime, his rearing program, which he says has just been hitting its stride providing up to 400,000 fish for the islands’ rivers, is in jeopardy.
If the program has to relocate, it means moving sheds, long houses and more.
“I don’t know who I’m going to get to help me pay for all this,” he says.