The closest community to the tugboat which sank Monday in Shuswap Lake is St. Ives in the North Shuswap.- Image credit: Shuswap Emergency Program.

UPDATE: Canoe Forest Products investigates sinking of mill tug boat in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health advises residents in area to watch for diesel in lake.

Canoe Forest Products is investigating what led to the sinking of one of its tug boats Monday afternoon off Ruckell Point in Shuswap Lake.

The mill’s general manager, Marcello Angelozzi, confirmed Tuesday, May 16, that one of the mill’s diesel-fueled tugs had sunk the day prior in the Cape Horn area (north of Ruckell Point) where the company has a booming ground. He said there were no injuries involved, and the company has boomed off the area where the boat went down to contain any possible leakage of fuel.

“We have some environmental groups that are involved in remediation and we’ve contained the area around the boat,” said Angelozzi, adding the boat is about 90 feet below the surface. “We’ve boomed that area and contained most of it, and any diesel that’s escaped that area, we have a boat out there trying to remediate that volume.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Interior Health issued a news release stating the sunken vessel contains approximately 4,000 litres of diesel fuel, and that a small amount could be seen on the lake. The health authority is advising residents on the western arm of Shuswap Lake to be cautious and check their water for signs of diesel fuel (either a sheen on the water surface or any smell).

As an additional precautionary measure, people should avoid using the lake water if it smells or tastes like fuel. Diesel fuel can pose a health risk following ingestion, inhalation or skin absorption.

The closest community to the area is St. Ives, about 10 kilometres to the southwest, which does not draw water from the lake.

Angelozzi said the cause of the sinking is under investigation, and the company will release a statement when the investigation is complete.

Angelozzi said plans are being made to salvage the vessel sometime over the next few days.

“We’re currently making plans to recover the vessel with a crane,” said Angelozzi. “We’re just going through some of the details and ensuring we’re all set to do it safely and not lose any more of the volume of diesel in the boat.”