The residents of Beaubassin East noticed a strange sight on the shores of Petit-Cap Beach on the weekend – long stretches of dead shellfish along the southeastern New Brunswick coast.
Resident Jean-Pascal Lavoie was walking with his family on the beach, about 35 kilometres east of Shediac, on Sunday morning when he came across the dead shellfish.
Taken aback, he recorded a video of the strange sight.
"We walked roughly 150 metres and within that section of the beach, we saw over 100 ...150 remains of crabs and other crustaceans all over the shoreline," Lavoie said in an interview with Radio-Canada.
Lavoie said he was alarmed, given that he frequently walks along the beach, and made sure his children and dog didn't enter the water that day.
"We knew that there were some industrial fires at the nearby fish plant a few days prior and we thought it may be some coincidence there," he said.
On Wednesday, N.B. Power spokesperson Marc Belliveau said he did not believe the liquid from N.B. Power's transformers posed any environmental threat.
He said three transformers filled with mineral and vegetable oil were attached to the smokehouse, and all three transformers and their contents were burned in the fire.
Their contents would not have spilled into the water, Belliveau said.
According to their field analysis, he said, the fire was so intense that all the oil burned on the spot.
"We checked the soil around the building, and nothing indicates that the oil would have moved," Belliveau said.
Radio-Canada and CBC News reached out to New Brunswick's Environment Department about the mass shellfish mortalities, but the department was unable to provide a cause, citing an ongoing environmental assessment.
The department noted it is not the lead agency investigating this event, but said it is working with provincial and federal departments, N.B. Power, the RCMP and the owner of the smokehouses "to address site cleanup and address any potential offsite impacts."
"A final report will be provided to [the Environment Department] from the consulting firm once complete," department communications officer Alysha Elliott said in an emailed statement.