12/28/2014 11:39 EST | Updated 02/27/2015 05:59 EST

Canadian Coast Guard Cleaning Up Spill After Chaulk Determination Sinks

William Andrew via Getty Images

Pumping operations continue at the Trois-Rivières port after the tugboat “Chaulk Determination” sank on Friday, leaking fuel into the St. Lawrence River.

Government agencies have been on site since Friday afternoon, working to limit the damage caused by the leak.

The boat was holding 22 tonnes of fuel when it sank. Since then, workers have been trying to stop the leakage of the diesel into the water and remove the fuel already in the water.

Canadian Coast Guard spokesman Michel Plamondon told CBC/Radio-Canada that nine tonnes of diesel have been removed from the water since operations began.

The Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the diving company Seamec are all part of the operation.

The cleanup will take at least several days, said Plamondon.

"The priority is really to conduct oil containment and recovery operations," he said. "We have no clue to how long it'll take to pick everything up."

Plamondon said the Coast Guard is working on a plan to get the ship back afloat. He said he believes that can be done by the end of December.

Final cost uncertain

A spokesman for Quebec's environment ministry said the owner of the boat will foot the bill for the cleanup. 

However, Plamondon said the coast guard was called in when it was determined the company that owns Chaulk Determination could not afford to pay the bill.

According to Transport Canada’s website, Cai Marine Inc. owns Chaulk Determination. The business is registered in Moncton, N.B.

At this point, it's unclear how much it will cost, or who will pay the final tab.

Accident could have been avoided

The port authority in Trois-Rivières said the leak could have been avoided.

Port authority president and CEO Gaétan Boivin said the owner of the boat had been notified several times about its precarious condition. He said the owner was warned it could sink if not cared for.

No one was on the boat, moored in the port for several weeks, when it sank.

The environment ministry is still investigating the cause of the sinking and spill.


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