Crews work to contain fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay

An oily purple-blue sheen of fuel believed to be leaking from a bulk carrier ship has coated water and land in Vancouver’s picturesque English Bay.

VANCOUVER — An oily purple-blue sheen of fuel believed to be leaking from a bulk carrier ship has coated water and land in Vancouver’s picturesque English Bay.

The City of Vancouver said the spill was of bunker fuel and warned on social media that it’s toxic and should not be touched.

An emergency response team was called in Wednesday to deal with the spill on the bay that is surrounded by apartments, businesses and the city’s jewel, Stanley Park.

On Thursday, the spill was visible from the seawall, on the edge of the park.

John Parker-Jervis of Port Metro Vancouver said the fuel appears to have come from a bulk carrier vessel that carries grain.

The red and black Marathassa is anchored off the edge of the bay and surrounded by an orange oil-absorbing boom. Several ships with special equipment to clean up the fuel have surrounded the vessel.

The Vancouver Fire Department, which has its fire boat on the water, said on its Twitter feed that almost 800 metres of boom were put in the water and one tonne of fuel had been recovered so far.

Parker-Jervis said the West Coast Marine Response Corp. had five boats recovering fuel oil throughout the night “so there has been some amount of product on the water.”

“Early in the evening the sheen was quite light and deemed not recoverable. However, as the evening progressed they did begin to find heavier concentrations,” he said.

“I don’t know if I would characterize it as a big spill but, you know, a significant operation to ensure cleaning it up.”

Parker-Jervis said it is not yet known how many litres of fuel have spilled into the water.

The coast guard, marine response teams, city officials and Transport Canada are co-ordinating efforts to recover the substance and pinpoint its source.

Parker-Jervis said the focus is now on safety and minimizing impact to the environment.

The Vancouver Aquarium said in a news release that it had deployed its rapid response team to ensure the protection of any fish, seabirds and marine mammals that may be put at risk from the toxic spill.

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