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Bloody Wastewater Pipe Is Pumping Viruses Into Canadian River

by : Cameron Frew on : 08 Dec 2019 15:34
Tavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe 3Tavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe 3Tavish Campbell

In 2017, a diver found plumes of blood gushing into Canada’s largest wild salmon migration route. Two years later, it’s still going. 

Photographer Tavish Campbell ventured to the bottom of the Discovery Passage channel, off Vancouver Island in British Columbia, in a series of dives in April, June, and October in 2017.

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When he found the gore spewing into the water, he was horrified. The fact it’s still pumping to this day gave way to two emotions: disappointment and fear.

Campbell immediately suspected the nearby Atlantic salmon processing plant, Brown’s Bay Packing, was directing its effluent pipe into the channel.

However, after sending a sample of the blood to the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, scientists found it was contaminated with a viral disease – and it’s still infected today.

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Campbell explained in an Instagram video: 

Recent dives have revealed the blood is still flowing and still infected with Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). This virus, which came from the Atlantic ocean, infects 80% of the farmed fish in British Columbia and is proven harmful to Pacific salmon.

Tavish Campbell Blood Water PipeTavish Campbell Blood Water PipeTavish Campbell

After images and reports emerged two years ago, Dominic LeBlanc, the federal fisheries minister at the time, said more must be done to protect wild salmon. Brown’s Bay Packaging also said that all discharge is disinfected before being released into the water, and their process is perfectly legal.

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The company’s managing partner, David Stover, told CTV News that a $1.5 million water treatment system is nearly ready to be commissioned.

Stover added:

The disinfection component of the system which is the final stage of the process is designed to disinfect the effluent. Although we don’t test for PRV, we are confident the disinfection process kills bacteria and virus.

Tavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe 2Tavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe 2Tavish Campbell
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The presence of infected wastewater in the same channel as salmon has potentially devastating consequences. While no official findings have been released, Campbell argues that the effects of the gushing pipe are already being felt on the wild salmon population.

Campbell told Vice’s Motherboard

It was a sinking feeling to see the blood still pouring out. The disappointment was quickly replaced with fear for the health of our wild salmon and by extension, the whole British Columbia coast.

2019 was the worst sockeye salmon return in Canadian history. This is what extinction looks like and it’s happening right under our noses.

Tavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe SalmonTavish Campbell Blood Water Pipe SalmonTavish Campbell
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Earlier this year, Canada’s federal department adjusted the number of returning Fraser River sockeye salmon expected this year to just more than 600,000 – a drastic fall from the initial projection of nearly five million.

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Animals, Canada, fish

Credits

Tavish Campbell/Vimeo and 3 others
  1. Tavish Campbell/Vimeo

    Infected Blood and Collapsing Wild Sockeye

  2. CTV News

    Wild salmon once again swimming in potentially dangerous bloodwater in B.C.

  3. Vice

    The Blood Pipe Is Still Spewing Blood After Nearly Two Years

  4. Global News

    Sockeye salmon returns plunge in B.C., official calls 2019 ‘extremely challenging’