An aerial view of the marine oil-spill near Bligh Island in Nootka sound that the Canadian Coast Guard posted in a live social media feed. ( Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)

An aerial view of the marine oil-spill near Bligh Island in Nootka sound that the Canadian Coast Guard posted in a live social media feed. ( Canadian Coast Guard/Facebook)

Active marine oil slick near Nootka Sound tied to historic 1968 Bligh Island shipwreck

Coast Guard, First Nations, province responding to a slick off northwestern Vancouver Island

An environmental response team has traced a marine oil spill in Nootka Sound to a freighter that sank off the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 1968.

The Canadian Coast Guard began investigations mid-September after local residents began reporting about sheen on the water. What was initially thought to be created by bilge discharge from vessels transiting through the area later turned out to be originating from shipwrecked vessel MV Schiedyk – the 483 feet cargo ship that sank upside down in Zuciarte Channel near the east end of Bligh Island, on Jan. 3, 1968 shortly after departing from Gold River.

Bligh Island – a popular recreational destination for anglers boaters and kayakers – is within the traditional territory of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation and the Spanish Pilot Group of Islands.

RELATED: North Island identified as highly sensitive to oil spills, despite low probability

RELATED: Alberni spill response base to conduct exercise at fuel dock

The ship — carrying 2,130 tonnes of wood pulp — was on route to Portland, Oregon when it struck a submerged ledge on the south side of Bligh Island.

Near midnight the ship floated off the ledge and drifted down Zuciarte Channel before grounding again on the east side of Bligh. Before the 34 crew members abandoned ship that, oil was reported on the water but investigators are still unsure of the amount that spilled that night. Sonar indicates the shipwreck is in 360-400ft of water.

The 483ft cargo ship MV Schiedyk had departed for Portland, Oregon from Gold River, when it struck a ledge and sunk on Jan. 3, 1968. (Canadian Coast Guard/SpillResponsebc)

An Incident Command Post (ICP) has been set up and the Canadian Coast Guard and the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation, Hesquiaht First Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Western Canada Marine Response and other partners are working together to respond to the situation.

The ICP is under the direction of a Unified Command shared between the Canadian Coast Guard and the provincial environment ministry and is monitoring developments virtually, according to a statement released by the Unified Command.

An environmental unit consisting of local First Nations will be established as they continue to provide valuable local knowledge about the area, and identifying sensitive ecological and archaeological sites. 10,000 feet of boom has been deployed to protect seven such sites.

“While the current amount of marine pollution is minimal (between 30 t0 50 litres), we are on the water and taking steps now to address the immediate threat to the environment and cultural sites in the area, and are assessing longer term strategies and actions,” the Canadian Coast Guard said in a social media post.

The Unified Command, is also deploying Fisheries and Oceans marine mammal oil spill response team to survey the area for potentially impacted mammals, they said in the statement.

A remotely operated vehicle has been deployed to gain a better understanding of the condition of the shipwreck, where the fuel may be leaking from, and, if possible, to get an idea of how much fuel is onboard.

Similarly drone surveillance to assess the spread and direction of marine pollution and lab sampling of contaminant is also underway.

“Once the Unified Command has made these assessments and taken initial action to protect sensitive areas, longer term strategies and tactics will be developed for containment and protection, and ongoing information gathering will determine the action plan,” said Tyler Yager, deputy superintendent for environmental response (western region) for the Canadian Coast Guard, in a video statement.

The team also said that on-water and on-site operations will be dependent on weather and sea conditions in the area as work progresses this winter.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Environment

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Penny Lewis excited for her first swim meet. (Contributed by Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club)
Dolphins enthusiastically accept Swim B.C.’s challenge

Contributed by Angie Abdou Elk Valley Dolphins Swim Club To counter the… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read