The Irving-owned Halifax Shipyard was cleaning up a small oil spill yesterday after a repair dock sank in the harbour on the weekend.

A spokesman for the coast guard said inspectors for the agency spotted a small sheen of oil near the repair dock that was a prominent feature on the harbour’s Halifax shore.

Keith Laidlaw, a spokesman for the agency’s environmental response team, said the light slick likely came from a diesel generator fuel tank that began leaking after the dock sank Saturday.

He didn’t know the precise amount of oil released but said the team didn’t believe it was enough to cause environmental damage because such sheens break up very quickly.

Still, Laidlaw said a cleanup using oil absorbents was underway.

“Apparently some diesel is coming to the surface that is able to be recovered and they are recovering it in absorbent material and they are putting out a secondary boom to help contain what is coming up,” he said.

The sheen of oil stretched from the site of the spill and across the harbour to under the support structures of the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge.

“Even with the containment boom, sometimes a light sheen is dragged underneath the boom by the current,” said Laidlaw.

Naval architects were brought in Sunday to help recover the sunken floating repair dock.

Geoff Britt, a spokesman for the Irving shipyard, said in an email that the dock was sitting in about 17 metres of water last evening and divers have been working to assess the situation.

“Currently, the plan to refloat the dock is being finalized and will be put into action as soon as possible,” he wrote.

“Halifax Shipyard is working to contain and remove a small amount of diesel fuel which escaped through a pressure release valve on the submersible dock’s diesel tank.

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