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Coastal Guardians continue monitoring fuel truck spill site

Guardians from four First Nations were back today at the site of a diesel fuel spill north of Campbell River.

They conducted shoreline surveys of environmental and culturally sensitive areas to check the extent of pollution from the April 20 spill. They also assisted with surveys of the ocean floor using a Remote Operated Vehicle.

Shane Pollard, Guardian Manager for the We Wai Kai First Nation, says the Coast Guard had high praise for the Ha-ma-yas Guardians, who helped pinpoint the sunken fuel truck and track the spill’s effects. The Coast Guard told the Guardians that monitoring and recovery efforts would not have succeeded without their help.

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Pollard says it was the first situation the Guardians have faced outside training, and that it was a positive learning experience for all involved.

Guardians from the Nations worked with the Coast Guard and the barge company after the April 20 incident to monitor and minimize environmental damage.

The Ha-ma-yas Guardians are part of the Nanwakolas Council, which includes five coastal Vancouver Island Nations. They have been training with the Coast Guard for the past three years to respond to marine emergencies.

“I’m immensely proud of all of our Guardians,” says K’ómoks First Nation Chief Ken Price. “Not only K’ómoks but Guardians of the Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai and Tlowitsis Nations all worked together rapidly and effectively to assist in a situation that needed fast, experienced action to try and minimize environmental damage to our territories.”

The truck was recovered April 28 and an investigation by Transport Canada is ongoing to determine how and why it rolled off a barge during a storm April 20.

“In the meantime, this has given us the opportunity to see how we can work together with the Coast Guard even better in practice in the future and confidence that we all have the capability now to partner on an effective response in a more serious situation if we need to,” says Chief Price. “That’s a good outcome.”

More information about the spill and the Guardians’ role in the response is available here.

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