Toxic fuel spill in English Bay prompts emergency response

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      Vancouver emergency crews are responding to a toxic fuel spill in English Bay.

      Port Metro Vancouver's operations centre received several reports, just after 5 p.m. on April 8, of an oily sheen on the water at English Bay. Their harbour patrol crew confirmed the situation and reported it to the Canadian Coast Guard, who are now working with the West Coast Marine Response Corporation to handle the situation.

      The City of Vancouver, Vancouver Police Department, and Transport Canada are all also responding to the situation.

      The oily substance was identified as bunker fuel (or residual fuel oil).

      The spill surrounded a grain ship Marathassa (flying a Cyprus flag) anchored in deep water off Vancouver, according to a CBC report. A boom has been placed around the ship to contain the spill.  

      However, the ship has not been confirmed as the source of the spill. Five other ships surround the vessel.

      Although beaches remain open, the City of Vancouver warned citizens that the oil spill is toxic and should not be touched.

      A view of the water near the shore between English Bay and Second Beach.
      Craig Takeuchi

      They have also received offers from citizens who want to help clean it up but warn there are health risks and have trained staff to deal with the situation.

      Wildlife experts and biologists are also assessing the impact on the local wildlife population.

      Ducks and other seabirds were swimming in and around the waters where the fuel was spreading.

      Ducks and other seabirds continued to swim in the waters near the fuel spill.
      Craig Takeuchi

      The fuel had reached the shore at English Bay and the area between English Bay and Second Beach near Stanley Park. A light smell of oil was perceptible at the beach.

      It has also been reported to be washing up on Kitsilano Beach. 

      Meanwhile, anti-tanker activists are also commenting on the situation.

      “This is a scary reminder of the potential nightmare scenario of what could happen if there’s increased tanker traffic along our coast,” Tanker Free BC executive director Ben West stated in a news release. 

      According to Tanker Free BC, the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project "would see an increase from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers a year carrying primarily tar sands bitumen which is more likely to sink in the marine environment potentially causing significant harm."  


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      Earl Richards

      Apr 10, 2015 at 12:21am

      The toxic, tar sands have to be stopped at the BC/AB border. A tar sands spill down into Vancouver Harbour will destroy over 30,000 jobs in Vancouver's tourist industry and will pollute Vancouver's beaches. The bitumen will sink, but the natural gas condensate will not and could explode, blowing Vancouver off the map.

      no accountability

      Apr 10, 2015 at 8:02am

      I like how that if no concerned citizens would have reported this then it would just be business as usual. youd think the nice crew members of the offending tanker would own up

      Guess what?!

      Apr 10, 2015 at 9:14am

      Pumped his bilges out in English Bay.
      What an asshole this skipper is.
      Usually they do this a few hundred miles out before they enter the straits and no one notices.
      What a complete asshole!!

      Thanks to Mr. Harper!!

      Apr 10, 2015 at 9:48am

      And the lovely Conservatives for shutting down our Kits Port that had a huge vessel specifically designed for spills and accidents like this and was docked and doing nothing while this oil destroys our environment. People of BC, i ask you why do we allow a PM to continue to do this to us? Please vote him out next election. We cannot afford to lose our precious coastline, thank you.

      William Mandela

      Apr 10, 2015 at 9:24pm

      The Sten Germanica is the cleanest ship in the world and runs on methanol. Methanex is the largest producer of methanol in world and is headquartered in Vancouver. They are building 9 tankers to run on methanol. Vancouver has the answer to never allow another spill again on BC waters. Let's get moving.

      @Thanks to Mr. Harper!!

      Apr 10, 2015 at 10:23pm

      We already have lost our coastlines. The idea that a voter in PEI should have any say in how Vancouver's coast is governed is ridiculous. Our coastlines have been nationalized, and money from back east will always trump local concern over the environment. Why is Canada exporting grain, anyway? Are we impoverished or something, we need to allow dangerous vessels into our waters, in order to get cash?

      Are you actually serious?

      Apr 13, 2015 at 9:05am

      "Why is Canada exporting grain, anyway? Are we impoverished or something"

      Yes we are... if we don't DO something to make money like sell and deliver grain. Can't trade ( money ) for things you dont make when you need them. That's what impoverished means.

      "we need to allow dangerous vessels into our waters, in order to get cash?"

      A grain freighter is hardly a 'dangerous vessel'. But hey.. if you think NO FREIGHTERS ALLOWED HERE is a wise policy, then hopefully you'll have an answer as to just how we source bike parts, coffee, window frames, solar panels, beer glasses, eyeglasses, camping stoves, soap, bananas, oranges, railway track, knives and forks .....