Northwest Fuels Bell-Irving fuel spill

DISCLAIMER: Information provided is based on reports received by Emergency Management B.C. Information provided is considered to be current at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Incident Description

Incident Date July 27, 2017
Name Northwest Fuels Bell-Irving fuel spill
Source Fuel Tanker
Nearest Community Stewart, B.C.
Spilled Content Diesel
Who is involved? B.C. Ministry of Environment, RCMP, Northwest Fuels, RAM Environmental,  Ministry of Transportation, Nisga’a Nation, Gitanyow First Nation, Skii km Lax Ha First Nation, Tsetsault Ventures Ltd. (TVL), Pretium Resources (Brucejack Mine)First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health Authority, Environment Canada, Transport Canada


Response Phase Detail

The responsible person or spiller is legally required to clean-up or manage the clean-up of a spill. In incidents where the responsible person is unknown, unable or unwilling to manage the clean up, the Ministry of Environment may assume the role. The updates below reflect the Ministry’s oversight of the spillers’ actions; details describe the spill response phase, only, and not the complete lifecycle of the spill. See More Information for other related reports. 

Updates are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Industry-specific language may be explained in the Glossary of Terms (PDF).

Most Recent Update

August 4, 2017 - 4:00 PM

Environmental consultants, hired by the responsible party, are developing a plan to remediate the area surrounding the incident site.

Water sample results show no detectable fuel-related products in any of the surface water samples collected.  According to the latest report, there is currently no spill-related drinking water concern for those downstream and no measurable affect to water quality in the Bell-Irving River in general.

Environmental consultants remain on site and will continue to monitor the site and the river for impacts.

No further updates anticipated. 

August 2, 2017 - 7:00 PM

Fuel and contaminated soil continue to be removed from the incident site. To date, the total volume of gas and diesel recovered from the site is 29,639 litres. The vac-truck will remain onsite to continue recovering product. 

On July 31, 2017, twenty-eight loads of suspect and contaminated soils were transported off-site. The three end-dump trucks used to transport the soil have capacities of 10mз , 15mз  and 17mз . However, all trucks were kept below capacity. Contaminated soil removal continues. 

Occasional silver sheen was observed within the river containment boom below the incident site. No sheen was observed upstream or downstream from the site. 

Environmental consultants continue to monitor the air around the incident site and are in the process of developing a remediation plan.

July 30, 2017 - 3:00 PM

The compromised pup trailer and truck have been removed from the incident site after the remaining fuel was offloaded. 

At this time, it is estimated that 17,700 litres of fuel has been released to the environment from fuel compartments in both the truck and pup trailer. Fuel continues to be recovered from the environment and further analysis will determine how much of the 17,700 litres of fuel was recovered throughout the weekend.

Trenches were constructed to limit further product from going into the Bell-Irving River. Containment boom was placed along the river's edge, downslope of the spill site, to capture trace amounts of product that were observed to be entering the river. The responsible party will continue to monitor the boom and confirm the effectiveness of containment on a daily basis.

An environmental consultant, hired by the responsible party, took preliminary water samples upriver from the site, at the site and down river from the site, near the Bell-Irving/Hwy 37 N bridge location. Contaminated soil is being collected and stored off-site and remediation plans are being developed.

First Nations Health Authority is working with communities impacted by the incident to address the next steps for water sampling and health concerns.

B.C. Ministry of Environment continues to monitor this incident and additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

July 28, 2017 - 5:00 PM

We have received the following update on this incident:

  • The Ministry of Environment conducted an overflight today with representatives from the Nisga’a Nation and Gitanyow First Nation.  The overflight surveyed the area from the spill site downstream to the junction with the Nass River, then downstream on the Nass River.
  • No diesel was visible on the Nass River. Isolated areas of a thin sheen of diesel was observed on the Bell-Irving River downstream of the spill site.
  • A vacuum truck is currently offloading the remaining diesel from the pup and Transport Canada has provided direction on the salvage of the pup, which will occur shortly.
  • An excavator is being used to isolate the diesel that has spilled to the ground at the site, between the pup and the Bell-Irving river, to prevent it from entering the river.
  • A  Ministry of Environment Environmental Emergency Response Officer remains on site to oversee the response.

Additional updates will be provided as more information becomes available.

July 28, 2017 - 9:45 AM

Two Environmental Emergency Response Officers remain on scene along with resources from other agencies and the responsible party.

The Northwest Fuels tanker was carrying a total shipment of 47,399 liters of diesel, split between the truck (20,309 liters) and a pup trailer (27,090 liters). The truck tanks were not compromised, but it appears that three out of four of the compartments in the pup trailer were compromised. Work is underway to determine the total quantity spilled from the pup trailer. All fuel remaining in the truck has been pumped off and recovery work is underway to remove the truck. The next priority is to pump the remaining fuel out of the damaged pup and remove it.

Mitigation measures are being taken to reduce the impact from the spill, including the use of absorbent materials to recover diesel. A helicopter overflight was conducted on July 28 to visually assess the impacts. Some product has been observed as a sheen on the left side of the Bell-Irving River downstream from the incident. The sheen has been deemed non-recoverable.

Resources and agencies on-site included the responsible party (Northwest Fuels), representation from Nisga'a First Nations, MOTI, RCMP, Highway Contractors, Grass Creek Towing Salvage, Ram Environmental, NorthWest Response, BC Ministry of Environment, Transport Canada TDG Inspector, Environment Canada Enforcement Officer.

July 27, 2017 - 2:50 PM

RCMP have reported that a Northwest Fuels tanker is on its side on Highway 37 near Stewart, B.C. leaking diesel near the Bell-Irving River. The trailer and truck have separated and are on opposite sides of the road. The trailer is on the river side. The river is approximately 200 feet downhill from the spill location. Initial reports from the responsible party estimate 6,000 litres of diesel have released from the tanker. The highway is not blocked and there are no reported injuries.  

RCMP are on scene and a response contractor is on en route.

Two Ministry of Environment Environmental Emergency Response Officers are also en route. One Response Officer has arranged and will participate in an overflight of the scene this afternoon to survey the potential impact of the incident.

The next update will be provided as more information becomes available.