The Canadian Coast Guard has taken over incident command after a fully-loaded fuel barge became stranded off the B.C. Central Coast Sunday.
The Coast Guard says its vessel Gordon Reid remains at the scene approximately 45 km southwest of Bella Bella and its first priority is the safety of the tug crew.
The articulated tug Jake Shearer, heading for Alaska, became detached from its barge Sunday afternoon. Provincial officials say the barge is carrying approximately 3.5 million litres of diesel and 500,000 litres of gasoline.
Two crew members aboard the barge were able to drop anchor, which so far seems to be holding the barge stationary.
There are no indications of a fuel release, but B.C. Ministry of Environment has activated the Ministry Emergency Operations Centre and has placed response officers on standby for deployment in the event of a spill.
A commercial tug is also on the way to help out.
Members of the Heiltsuk Nations are anxiously monitoring the situation in their territorial waters.
Just over a year ago, the Nathan E. Stewart ran aground, spilling over 110,000 litres of diesel and other contaminants into Seaforth Channel.
Just this month, the Heiltsuk proposed the creation of an Indigenous Marine Response Centre capable of responding within five hours to an incident like the Nathan E. Stewart or the Jake Shearer along a 350 km stretch of the B.C. coast.