A 10,000-litre diesel tanker truck that sunk in the Robson Bight marine ecological reserve east of Port McNeill has likely imploded, the Canadian Coast Guard said yesterday.

Jamie Toxopeus, the coast guard’s acting supervisor of environmental response, said technical experts believe that the tanker truck was crushed by pressure at a depth of more than 350 metres.

“The fuel released and evaporated on the surface of the water,” Toxopeus said.


At the site yesterday, observers said the upwelling of fuel had slowed considerably and was leaking at the rate of about roughly four marble-sized drops every hour.

On Monday, a barge overturned in Johnstone Strait, spilling heavy equipment and a diesel fuel tanker truck near Robson Bight.

The marine ecological reserve, located 280 kilometres northeast of Vancouver on the east side of Vancouver Island, is renowned as a place where orca pods congregate to forage, mate and rub against the pebble beaches.

John Ford, a spokesman with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said the fuel spill did not seem to have impacted the orcas’ behaviour.

Protective booms that had been brought in to protect beaches were removed yesterday, Ford said, because they may have intefered with the rubbing.

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