Carino praised for spill re­sponse

Seal oil dis­charge cre­ates un­sightly mess, smell in Dildo

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

It’s late af­ter­noon on Tues­day, May 15 and cousins Ni­cole Smith and Macken­zie Smith are walk­ing swiftly along Front Road in Dildo, their shirts pulled up over their noses.

The wind is blow­ing in off the beach, and there’s a thick, un­pleas­ant smell in the air.

Ni­cole, a stu­dent at nearby Wood­land El­e­men­tary, doesn’t like the stink.

“It’s tor­ture ev­ery day when we get off the bus,” she says.

The odour is com­ing from the beach, where a large quan­tity of seal oil came ashore last month fol­low­ing an ac­ci­den­tal dis­charge from the nearby seal pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity in Dildo South.

‘Op­er­a­tional er­ror’

The in­ci­dent

cre­ated

quite a buzz in the Trin­ity Bay com­mu­nity as of­fi­cials with Carino Pro­cess­ing Limited scram­bled to clean up the mess, and area res­i­dents sought an ex­pla­na­tion for the un­usual event.

Pho­tos of the scene show a beach cov­ered in a white, slimy oil. Much of the oil has since dis­si­pat- tonnes of what he de­scribed as “food grade, cer­ti­fied Omega 3 seal oil.”

He said the in­ci­dent oc­curred the “first week of April,” and much of the oil floated across Dildo Arm to the com­mu­nity of Dildo.

Dakins said com­pany of­fi­cials

In this in­stance, there was an er­ror and (the oil)

went over the top of the gate. — Dion Dakins, CEO of Carino Pro­cess­ing Limited,

Dildo South

ed, but ev­i­dence re­mains on the rocks, float­ing on the water, and, of course, in the air. So what caused such a mess? The CEO of Carino, Dion Dakins, said it was an “op­er­a­tional er­ror” that led to the re­lease of about three are “not happy” with the in­ci­dent, and took the pre­scribed mea­sures to clean up the mess, in con­sul­ta­tion with pro­vin­cial and fed­eral en­vi­ron­ment de­part­ments.

“In this in­stance, there was an er­ror and (the oil) went over the top of the gate,” said Dakins. He de­scribed the in­ci­dent as “very un­usual,” and said “op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures have been im­proved” to en­sure a sim­i­lar dis­charge is not re­peated.

10-day cleanup

The com­pany at­tempted to use ab­sorbent pads to soak up the oil, but this proved in­ef­fec­tive. The Sea­side vol­un­teer depart­ment was then called in to pump water onto the beach, which helped dis­si­pate the oil. How­ever, this also raised the ire of some boat own­ers at the lo­cal ma­rina, since the oil be­gan to seep in around their ves­sels, and at­tach to moor­ing lines.

The com­pany hired sev­eral peo­ple to help with the cleanup, which went on over a pe­riod of about 10 days, said Dakins.

Costly mis­take

“I think you’ll find we re­spon­sive,” said Dakins.

Dildo res­i­dent Fred El­ford, who lives not far from the beach, seemed sat­is­fied.

“This is not some­thing that’s go­ing to kill any­one,” said El­ford.

Whale pro­cess­ing took place in Dildo South in the 1970s, and El­ford said hav­ing an­i­mal oil on the beach was a “reg­u­lar thing” in those days. “It’s no big deal to me,” he said. Two lo­cal men on the wharf, who asked not to be named, also com­mended the com­pany for its re­sponse, but cau­tioned that area res­i­dents might not be so un­der­stand­ing if such dis­charges be­came more com­mon.

“It was just a mis­take,” said one man, adding “no­body around here is against the plant.”

As kids, he added, it was im­pos­si­ble to safely walk along the beach be­cause of the whale oil and car­cass parts.

“There was pot head meat all over the place,” he said.

were

Dakins said “no cor­rec­tive ac­tion was re­quired” be­cause the oil is bi­o­log­i­cal, but he said the com­pany took ac­tion in or­der to re­duce any dis­com­fort or in­con­ve­nience to res­i­dents of Dildo.

Though he wouldn’t dis­close a fig­ure, Dakins ac­knowl­edged there was a loss of rev­enue, “plus the time and ef­fort to get the sit­u­a­tion rec­ti­fied.”

It was a set­back in ef­forts to re­build the strug­gling and con­tro­ver­sial seal in­dus­try, which has been ham­pered by poor mar­kets in re­cent years.

The com­pany re­ceived a $3.6 mil­lion loan from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to en­sure there was a hunt this year, and al­low the com­pany to pur­chase seal pelts and blub­ber or fat.

Dakins said the com­pany pur­chased all 68,000 of the seals taken dur­ing this year’s com­mer­cial harvest. The to­tal al­low­able catch was 400,000 an­i­mals.

“It was the busiest year in a num­ber of years,” said Dakins.

He said “raw pro­cess­ing,” which lasted about four weeks, had ended at the plant, though roughly 25 em­ploy­ees re­mained on staff as of last week.

At­tempts to ar­range in­ter­views with the de­part­ments of En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion and Ser­vice NL were un­suc­cess­ful.

A spokesper­son for En­vi­ron­ment stated the fol­low­ing in an email: “The Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Con­ser­va­tion has con­ducted a pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion at the fa­cil­ity. The op­er­a­tor has been very co-op­er­a­tive dur­ing the process and is work­ing closely with the depart­ment to re­me­di­ate the sit­u­a­tion.”

The di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Ser­vice NL, Hugh Donnan, did not respond to email and tele­phone mes­sages.

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The photo at left shows the beach in Dildo Har­bour not long af­ter some of the roughly three tonnes of seal oil washed up on the beach. The photo at right was taken May 15.

It may be dif­fi­cult to see any vis­i­ble signs of the roughly three tonnes of seal oil that washed ashore in Dildo last month, but the un­pleas­ant odour is un­mis­tak­able. Just ask cousins Ni­cole Smith (left) and Macken­zie Smith. They were ob­served cov­er­ing their noses as they walked down the street last week.

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