Barge flips, sinks near Bella Bella

The incident occurred near where a tug ran aground last month

BELLA BELLA, B.C. – The Heiltsuk Nation in British Columbia says a barge has flipped and sunk north of the site where a tug that ran aground last month still awaits removal.

A news release from the First Nation says the barge, which was carrying gravel and sand from Seattle, Wash., to Alaska flipped Sunday evening in a channel along B.C.’s central coast.

The 37-metre tugboat that was towing the barge was still afloat Sunday night, and the four crew members were safe.

A Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson says the tug has been granted permission from Transport Canada to continue its journey north to Alaska while crews remain at the scene of the sunken 65-metre barge.

The sinking comes less than four weeks after the tugboat Nathan E. Stewart ran aground near Bella Bella, spilling diesel fuel into the water.

Sunday’s incident happened near Klemtu, which is about 55 kilometres north of Bella Bella.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to make an announcement in Vancouver on Monday about how tanker and fuel spills along the West Coast will be responded to in the future.

Heiltsuk member Jess Housty, who is part of the diesel spill response team, says with two incidents involving sinking vessels, Trudeau’s promised regulatory changes can’t come soon enough.

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