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Coast Guard says officials have pinpointed source of leak on ship in Charlottetown Harbour

A boom was set in the water earlier this week in an apparent attempt to contain anything spilling from MV Ancier, docked just off downtown Charlottetown. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
A boom was set in the water earlier this week in an apparent attempt to contain anything spilling from MV Ancier, docked just off downtown Charlottetown. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

It's still not clear how much fuel has spilled in the Hillsborough River after a fuel spill from a former ferry tied up in Charlottetown Harbour — or when it might be cleaned up.

The Canadian Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday that it was investigating a spill from MV Ancier, which has been docked at the harbour since last Friday.

CBC News has been trying to confirm how much fuel was released, what kind of fuel it is, whether it's been contained and when it's expected to be cleaned up.

The Coast Guard said in an email response early Thursday evening that "assessments and operations" were ongoing.

"The vessel owner has contracted the services of a response organization to conduct pollution response operations and has also contracted a third-party contractor to conduct a hull survey of the vessel. During the diving operations that were conducted late in the day on [Wednesday], no damages or leaks were observed to the hull," the email reads.

"The suspected source of the leak has been identified on board and fuel will be removed from the identified tank to eliminate any further pollution threat."

Another view of the spot where MV Ancier is tied up in Charlottetown, with access to the public restricted.
Another view of the spot where MV Ancier is tied up in Charlottetown, with access to the public restricted.

Another view of the spot where MV Ancier is tied up in Charlottetown, with access to the public restricted. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The Coast Guard said a hazard response team will remain on scene until that removal has been completed, and will continue shoreline assessments to watch for any further impacts in the area.

By late Thursday, CBC News had also reached out about the leak to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, Port Charlottetown, federal MPs Lawrence MacAulay and Sean Casey, and the Town of Stratford — but had yet to receive a response.

'No apparent risk to groundwater'

Beginning early Sunday, residents of nearby Stratford and Mermaid reported seeing a sheen on the water and on ice in the harbour, as well as smelling a strong fuel odour in the area.

On Wednesday, the province said the smell and sheen on the water remained, but officials were "confident there is no apparent risk to groundwater, shellfish resources or wildlife in the area."

The Ancier arrived at the dock in Charlottetown on Friday, Jan. 12, and was still tied up Thursday. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Officials said an environmental officer inspected the Mermaid Cove site on Monday, and on Tuesday officers inspected a further 10 sites on both banks of the Hillsborough River, but found no impact from the spill.

The Ancier, built in 1973 and formerly known as Vacancier, was a cruise ship/car ferry that from 2002 to 2019 operated on a CTMA route between Montreal and the Magdalen Islands off northeastern Prince Edward Island.

It was decommissioned during the pandemic and sold in December.

The vessel will eventually continue on its way to be scrapped in India.