Ship sinks, spills oil and fuel into Deep Bay

The waters of Deep Bay were fouled with oil and diesel fuel on the weekend when a 60-foot fishing vessel sank at dockside.

The stern of the Irene W rises out of the waters dockside in Deep Bay. Neil Horner photo

The waters of Deep Bay were fouled with oil and diesel fuel on the weekend when a 60-foot fishing vessel sank at dockside.

Deep Bay Harbour Master Bill Falkiewicz said the Irene W sank without warning — and quickly — at about 3 p.m. Saturday.

“The boat came in December after it broke its mooring out in the bay and required a little bit of work,” Falkiewicz said. “The boat was towed into the harbour and some repairs were initiated, but we had an incident where two commercial boats came in Tuesday of last week and ended up disconnecting the power to the boat so they could use it on their boat to do a repair of some kind and they didn’t plug the Irene W back.”

Despite numerous sets of eyes on the dock and Falkiewicz taking his usual dock inspection tour Saturday morning, there were few visible signs of trouble.

“We didn’t notice any water at all going into the boat,” he said. “Just before 3 p.m. she goes down like a rock, without warning. There was one fellow working 80 feet away and another working about 50 feet away and they couldn’t believe how quickly it went down.”

Falkiewicz said he was informed of the sinking by 3:08 p.m. and by 3:15 workers had installed two sets of booms around the stricken vessel to contain any pollutants that might escape. However, the boom didn’t catch all of it and a sheen of oil could be seen Monday over much of the water dockside.

“In the large scheme of things, it’s not a huge oil spill, by virtue of the fact we got to it immediately and we stopped potential further damage,” he said. “However, there are a great many hydrocarbons on a boat, such as grease, oil, diesel and hydraulic oil. We have to try to contain that as much as we can.”

A commercial diver was sent down on Sunday and reported that while the hull appears to be sound, there are a number of areas near the water line where the caulking is non-existent.

“What probably happened was there was water in the boat and when the water level came up to where the caulking was out, the water must have just rushed in,” Falkiewicz said.

A barge has been hired to raise the Irene W and it was scheduled to arrive some time today (Tuesday).

“We don’t like this sort of stuff, but sometimes it gets thrown our way and we have to deal with it,” Falkiewicz said.

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