British Columbia

Between 60 and 100 litres of oil spilled in Vancouver's English Bay

The Canadian Coast Guard says that it is working to contain an oil spill near Spanish Banks beach from a container ship in English Bay.

Coast guard says the fuel came from container ship MV Europe

A nighttime picture of a boom containing an oil spill from a large container ship off in the distance.
Crews are seen responding to an oil spill that originated from container ship MV Europe off the coast of Vancouver on Jan. 21, 2023. (Canadian Coast Guard)

The Canadian Coast Guard says it is working to contain and assess an oil spill from a container ship in Vancouver's English Bay. 

According to the coast guard, a pilot notified them of pollution from a ship around 11:40 a.m PT Saturday.

Officials say the spill originated from the container vessel MV Europe, with a slick visible from the air on the water close to Spanish Banks beach.

Approximately 60 to 100 litres of fuel was released into the water, according to the coast guard. It deployed a boom — a floating containment device — to limit the spread of the spill.

"We anticipate the fuel has thinned and spread out overnight and we are working today to aggressively contain the slick and remove as much as possible from the marine environment," a Canadian Coast Guard spokesperson said Sunday morning.

"The ship's owner has also activated a response and has contracted the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) to respond," they added.

MV Europe is registered in Cyprus, according to records, and was built in 2004. It had left Prince Rupert on Jan. 13 and arrived in Vancouver on Jan. 15.

Transport Canada is inspecting the vessel for compliance with the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 and international conventions said the coast guard in a statement.

The WCMRC said the coast guard was leading the response to the oil spill, with the City of Vancouver also deferring to the organization.

"As of daybreak [Sunday] morning, there has been no further releases of fuel from the MV Europe and we believe the situation will remain stable, with no further releases of fuel into the marine environment," the coast guard spokesperson said.

A visible sheen is seen on seawater.
An oil sheen is visible on the waters of English Bay after a spill from a container ship on Saturday. (Canadian Coast Guard/Twitter)

"The Musqueam, Tsleil Waututh, Squamish, and Lyackson Nations are identifying areas of cultural sensitivity so that we can protect those areas if needed," they added.

The nations did not immediately respond to inquiries from CBC News.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is also working to assess how the spill may affect wildlife and sensitive ecosystems. It is undertaking trajectory modelling to try and predict the direction the oil will move on the water and where it might end up.

English Bay extends from the downtown core of Vancouver to its northwest tip, including the University of B.C. and the Point Grey neighbourhood. It is often where container ships are moored before heading to the Port of Vancouver to load or unload cargo.

The area has seen spills before, including a 2015 spill that spread to multiple beaches and harmed marine life.