Huge Bunker Cleanup Operation off Canada Coast

Thursday November 21, 2013

The Canadian Coast Guard is engaged in one of its largest-ever cleanup operations at the site of a 1944 shipwreck of the north coast of British Columbia, Canadian news site Global News reports.

Hundreds of tonnes of bunker fuel are being removed from the U.S. Supply Ship Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, which authorities had feared would suffer a collapse of its fuel tanks.

A crew of more than 100 divers and salvagers began the work last month in a CAD 50 million ($48 million) operation, removing 3,000 litres of fuel on the first day.

The operation aims to finish up by Christmas.

While the Zalinski is less than 100 feet below the surface, another sunken vessel in the same area, the Queen of the North, is 400 meters below the surface.

The Coast Guard has not begun working on that ship, which holds diesel, rather than fuel oil, in its tanks.

The Zalinski was carrying about 700 tonnes of fuel when it crashed into rocks and sank, according to research group Ocean Ecology.

In 2003, oil was observed in the area, including nearby shoreline, and divers plugged leaks in the wreck's hull to stop oil from escaping.