Crews on Haida Gwaii place booms, monitor air quality around grounded barge

QUEEN CHARLOTTE, B.C. — Booms have been placed around a grounded fishing lodge barge so contaminants that may be seeping from its hull don't foul beaches on the east coast of Haida Gwaii.

The Council of the Haida Nation has provided an update on efforts to assess and salvage the barge, which grounded on Lina Island, near the village of Queen Charlotte, B.C., after breaking away from its mooring in high winds last weekend.

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The council's news release says the booms were placed Thursday while technicians monitoring the barge and surrounding area confirm air inside and around the hull remains unsafe because of harmful vapours.

Anyone approaching requires a respirator and other protective equipment, while the public must stay outside the 300-metre emergency zone set up by the coast guard.

When the barge carrying Westcoast Resorts' Hippa Lodge went aground, there was concern that a possibly ruptured fuel line had filled the hold with potentially explosive vapours.

The Haida Nation Council says, as safety considerations permit, efforts have been underway to vent those vapours and assess damage to the barge.

"While the operations team works to finalize a salvage and (cargo removal) plan, the environmental unit continues to perform sampling for hydrocarbons and an environmental impact assessment is being conducted," the release says.

The council release also describes any pollution from the grounded barge as "minimal."

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