Oil spills into Babine Lake in barge mishap

An oil spill occurred near Topley Landing in Babine Lake on March 18 after the transport barge operated by Babine Barge experienced a mechanical problem.

The barge is contracted to Canfor in Houston and the incident saw some oil released into the lake, Michelle Ward, Director of Corporate Communications with Canfor, told Black Press.

The total of 70 litres of gear oil spilled into the water from the Babine barge, said Suzannah Kelly, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

An initial report said that 720 litres of the oil had spilled onto the barge but it was later found that its capacity was 690 litres, and that 70 litres had gone into the lake.

Cleanup crews, using absorbent pads and booms recovered about 60 litres from the lake, Kelly said.

Most of the open water section of the lake was inspected during the cleanup but ice buildup prevented some inspection and recovery.

On March 19 the First Nation Health Authority told the Lake Babine Nation (LBN) that residents of the Tachet Reserve could resume drawing water through their water intake from the lake.

Several agencies including the ministries of the Environment and Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, health authorities, local First Nations were notified and some joined the inspection.

An LBN fisheries biologist went to the spill site as an observer.

A plane with the Transport Canada National Surveillance Program made several passes over the spill site since March 19.

Cleanup efforts and water sampling by Babine Barge were ongoing and LBN and Yekooche First Nation would be given updates.


Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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