Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goldstream River Fuel Spill

The local news has been full of reports all weekend -- on Saturday, a fuel tanker truck crashed on the Island Highway in Goldstream Provincial Park. The tank was smashed, and released about 40,000 litres of gasoline into a culvert that drained into Goldstream River. Drunk driving charges are being contemplated against the driver.
The river is not a kayaking river, but the park is a popular recreational place with trails and a campground, and a wonderful Nature Centre looking over the Estuary. The news of the fuel spill into this beautiful river is heartbreaking.
Though it appears no humans died as a result of this crash, biologists are in the sad process of counting the number of salmon that died immediately and are still dying. At this point, it looks like every fish in the river below the fuel spill may have died. Some of the gasoline has already evaporated. There's no easy way to clean the gasoline out of the estuary, where the river drains into Finlayson Arm of Saanich Inlet. The fuel slick on the salt water of the inlet reached as far as the little marina in Finlayson Arm on Sunday.

This photo was taken by John during a day hike in Goldstream Provincial Park, in the fall when the chum salmon were spawning. A few days before the fuel spill, the Goldstream Hatchery had just released over 8,000 coho salmon fry into the river. The salmon enhancement program began thirty-five years ago. My friend Linda and I volunteered then with Howard English. We spent every Saturday for four years walking along this stretch of the river, feeding salmon fry.
There are more news articles online here. I haven't got the heart to write more about the fuel spill now.

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