A barge remains partially sunk at the Clayton Falls dry land sort area. Outflow winds about two weeks ago apparently caused the vessel to come loose and drifted west towards Clayton Falls, where it now is posing a problem for local community operations.
The barge belongs to the owner of Central Coast Power Corporation, Tony Knott. Knott’s had owned the hydro operation at Ocean Falls, which is now owned by Boralex and supplies power to that community and neighbouring Bella Bella.
According to Bella Coola Harbour Authority Manager Tom Carney, Knott had requested to tie up the barge at the harbour last fall, but was informed that it wasn’t possible as the vessel was so large.
“I told him that our facility did not have room for a vessel that large, as the barge is 145’ by 26’ wide. He inquired about whom he needed to contact to find out if he could use the old B.C. packers property and I shared that information with him,” said Carney “I heard later that the barge was going to be moored over by the log sort.”
Knott apparently had an agreement with the Elspeth Bay Development Corporation in which they would look after the barge in exchange for use of Knott’s tug, the Royal Two, which sunk in Elspeth Bay December last year.
Carney first heard of the trouble with the barge on February 7. “I went down to survey the situation and the barges stern was awash and a sheen was on the water, at that time I didn’t see anyone around,” said Carney. “I reported this to the Coast Guard and met them the next day and assisted them with transportation to the site.”
Community Forest operations were initially shut down but have since restarted. The Coast Guard has come in on several occasions to monitor the situation, but exactly how they will deal with the barge has not been determined. The barge is three-quarters sunk and the stern ramps are most likely tangled in anchor lines and submerged debris.
It is rumoured that there is some Bunker C fuel oil on board, estimated at anywhere from 300 to 3000 gallons. At this time it is believed that oil is in the forward hold that is above water and is not leaking into the environment. However, if it was to be released it would certainly make an impact on the local environment.
“The Harbour has offered assistance and supplies to support this effort,” said Carney, “but at the moment all we can do is wait for the next development.”