Vancouver spill mostly cleaned up but work and questions remain

Vancouver spill mostly cleaned up but work and questions remain

Vancouver: Clean-up of last Wednesday’s bunker fuel spill in waters off Vancouver was 90% complete early on Tuesday, but advisories remain in place to dissuade citizens from entering the waters at affected beaches.

Vancouver city manager Penny Ballem told the city council that the spill in English Bay was relatively small but “nasty” and that the highly toxic fuel spread quickly.

There is still bunker fuel stuck below the Marathassa (80,635 dwt, built 2015), the bulk carrier from which the fuel came, and crews are working to surface and contain it with containment booms, Ballem said. Cleanup continues on beaches and the hull of the ship.

Oil globules were found on the shore at eight locations, she revealed.

Vancouver Coastal Health said there is no timeline for when closed beaches will be reopened and considered safe for people and pets.

Warning signs on the affected beaches warn against anybody other than the designated authorities attempting clean up on the beach.

It may be days or weeks before a complete explanation is available of how the accident happened and how much fuel was involved.

The Canadian Coast Guard, which received some criticism for its response in the early days of the incident, has defended itself vigorously, with Commissioner Jody Thomas saying on Tuesday that the body’s work was “exceptional”.

However the employees’ union Unifor, which represents Coast Guard workers, said that the incident showed the potential negative consequences of planned cutbacks which would see three of five marine communication centres in British Columbia shut down before the end of the year.

Donal Scully

With 28 years experience writing and editing for newspapers in the UK and Hong Kong, Donal is now based in California from where he covers the Americas for Splash as well as ensuring the site is loaded through the Western Hemisphere timezone.

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