Canadian Coast Guard on scene after fuel-loaded barge splits away from tug in Queen Charlotte Sound

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      Update (Nov. 27): The barge has been recovered and the Canadian Coast Guard has reported that there has been no environmental damage. For more information, see this article.  

      An articulated tug barge carrying 3.5 million litres of diesel oil is adrift in the ecologically sensitive waters of Queen Charlotte Sound north of Vancouver Island.

      The Canadian Coast Guard has tweeted that one of its vessels is on the scene after the Jake Shearer became separated from its tug south of Goose Island.

      The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre says the vessel broke free before 4 p.m. today.

      The website identifies the Jake Shearer as a U.S.-flagged pusher tug with a gross tonnage of 497. It's 34 metres by 11 metres in size.

      This incident is of great concern to members of the Heiltsuk First Nation, whose traditional shellfish harvesting was seriously marred a year ago when another boat, the Nathan E. Stewart, sank last year in waters near Bella Bella.

      Queen Charlotte Sound has thriving populations of of marine birds, marine mammals, fish, and shellfish. Humpback whales have even returned to the area in recent years.