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Canadian town in fear of dead whale carcass exploding

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There are fears in a Canadian town that the carcass of a dead blue whale, which is rotting on the shore on Canada’s east coast, could explode. Provincial officials said yesterday that they were working with federal agencies to assist small towns on Newfoundland’s west coast to deal with the rotting carcasses of whales; this includes one which was washed ashore close to the town of Trout River.

Emily Butler, the town’s clerk, said that the 85ft blue whale is beached close to a community boardwalk and that it is giving off a strong odour which is spreading throughout the town of 600 people. She has said that the residents were worrying that the methane gas which is created by the decomposition of the whale could cause it to explode.

Ms Butler said ‘I’m not sure with the heat and gases that are trapped inside of this mammal if at some point in time it will explode’.

Jack Lawson, a research scientist with Canada’s fisheries department, has said that it is a ‘very small’ risk that the whale will blow up. He has said that it is more likely that the gases would escape as the whale’s skin starts to break down, and it would then deflate just like an old balloon.

Health concerns have been raised by local officials, as have worries about the smell having an effect on the coming tourism season.

Ms Butler has asked for help to remove the whale’s body from the province’s environment and government services departments and also from the federal fisheries department. She has also said that the town council had thought of asking fishermen to tow the whale out to sea but she concluded that this would need to be supervised by an expert. Ms Butler said ‘Nobody has been properly trained in the removal of whale carcasses of this size’.

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