VICTORIA -- Emergency responders have recovered nearly 30 tonnes of bunker oil that continues to leak from a historic shipwreck off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The 150-metre cargo ship MV Schiedyk ran aground and sank in Nootka Sound in January 1968. The wreck lay dormant for decades until last late last year when a two-kilometre oil slick was suddenly visible on the ocean’s surface near Bligh Island, part of an ecologically sensitive marine park.

MV Schiedyk wreck

Multiple pollution response vessels, staffed with personnel from federal, provincial and Indigenous agencies, were dispatched to the area.

Several kilometres of booms were deployed to gather as much of the leaking oil as possible, while a remotely piloted submersible was sent down to the wreck, which is resting upside down in approximately 120 metres of water.

Spill response officials now say the oil is seeping from more than one spot in the ship’s hull at a rate of between three and 13 litres per hour.

As of Monday, responders had recovered approximately 28,670 kilograms – or 28.67 tonnes – of oil and oily debris from the wreck site.

Coast Guard spokesperson Michelle Imbeau says the next step in the spill response plan is to assess the status of the vessel itself. That assessment is expected to proceed at the end of May.

“Once the assessment is complete, we will be have a better understanding of the condition of the ship as well as the types and estimated quantity of fuel onboard,” Imbeau said in an email Wednesday.

The ship still technically belongs to Holland America, but Transport Canada has said the company is not liable for the cleanup cost due to a statute of limitations on the federal Maritime Liability Act.