This past Monday, the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) began cleanup work on the north shore of the Prince Rupert harbour.
“It appears old bunker fuel was residue in a pipe and with the higher temperatures we’ve had recently the viscosity was reduced and became liquified turning into a very small drip on the north shore,” said manager of communications at the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA), Michael Gurney.
A rainbow sheen in the harbour was observed by PRPA staff Sunday who discovered a small oil leak was coming from a pipe located by the berths on the north shore.
“It’s literally dripping, not flowing. Its a very small quantity and has only been dripping for a couple of days based on our observations. There is no more fluid air escaping into the harbour,” Gurney said. The old pipes, not used for decades, pre-date the port authority’s acquisition of the property. Although they pass through the property they are not part of the port authority’s infrastructure.
“The era of the pipe is not directly known but is believed to have carried bunker fuel from a storage facility uphill,” Gurney said.
On Sunday, the port authority began to work with a variety of agencies in response to the leak. First on scene was WCMRC who contained the oil dripping from the pipe with a boom from the shoreline.
Excavation work on Monday began to identify the source of the leak and the exact point the pipe could be be cut and sealed.
“With containment behind us it’s time for cleanup and make sure this pipe can be cleaned up using steam cleaning and can be shut and sealed,” Gurney said.
The PRPA started consultation with an environmental agency to assess the impact on marine life and vegetation since Monday.