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Heiltsuk Nation releases report on Bella Bella oil spill

An investigative report into the sinking of a tug boat and fuel spill near Bella Bella has found significant gaps in Canada’s emergency response measures.

The report, prepared by the Heiltsuk Tribal Council, focused on the first 48 hours of response following the Nathan E. Stewart running aground.

Chief Marilyn Slett says the report highlights the ineffectiveness of Canada’s response to a spill.

“Our report identified confusion about who was taking charge at the incident site…delays in spill equipment arriving at the incident site…Heiltsuk members were not provided with safety equipment or briefed on health impacts related to the exposure to diesel oil which is highly toxic…”, she says.

A DFO emergency harvesting closure is still in effect in Gale Creek, an area the community relies on for income from commercial fishing and food for personal and ceremonial use.

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