British Columbia

Vancouver oil spill: Part of Stanley Park seawall, English Bay closed for cleanup

Efforts to clean up an oil spill in Vancouver will shift to the shoreline following reports part of the slick had reached beaches in West Vancouver.

City sets up sign-up sheet for volunteers, but says helpers should leave the official clean-up to experts

A bufflehead duck covered in oil slick in Vancouver is too weak to be treated on Friday. It will be washed on Saturday if its condition improves. (Wildlife Rescue Association)

Efforts to clean up an oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay and Stanley Park have moved from the ocean to the shoreline. 

Transport Canada said an aerial survey on Friday morning determined that almost all of the oil in the water had been cleaned up by skimmers on Thursday with only a few small patches remaining. The formal oil recovering and cleanup around the shoreline began around 2 p.m. PT. 

On Friday afternoon, Vancouver Park Board said the Seawall in Stanley Park was closed around Siwash Rock for the cleanup. 


Roger Girouard, Canadian Coast Guard assistant commissioner, said cleanup efforts will now focus on shoreline areas, including West Vancouver's Sandy Cove, where a slick 80 metres long and one metre wide had washed ashore along with seaweed and other debris. 

But he said the first step of the shoreline cleanup would be assessing the fragility of the marine environment to ensure the efforts would not further damage any ecosystems. 

Other assessments were also underway in West Vancouver's Dundarave area and along the entire southern shoreline of English Bay. 

According to the city, "thousands of offers of help" have come in, however, the federal agencies says for now there in no opportunity for volunteers. Crews in protective gear with special expertise in oil recovery have been handling the work..

New vessel blamed for spill

Transport Canada has confirmed the estimated 2,700 litres of oil was bunker fuel from the vessel M/V Marathassa, as had been suspected.

The official cause of the leak has not been released, but officials believe it was due to an unintentional malfunction on board the vessel, which was on its maiden voyage after being launched from a Japanese shipyard in February. 

Officials expect the vessel's owner will be liable for the full cost of the cleanup, as per Canadian laws. The vessel could be detained or a bond issued, they said. 

The spill was first spotted on Wednesday afternoon, and it took officials until midnight to confirm the source and put a boom around the cargo vessel.

There has been a handful of reports of water birds being affected by the spill, said officials. 

The Wildlife Rescue Association has found three bufflehead ducks on Second Beach that are too weak from being covered by fuel to be washed. They are currently being force-fed and while likely be washed tomorrow if their condition improves. 

According to the coast guard, there are also uncorroborated reports of a seal covered in oil.

If you want to help

Health officials continue to warn members of the public and their pets to stay out of the water, and not to attempt to clean up the oil on their own.

Anyone who spots an oil slick or an animal covered in oil is asked to call a cleanup hotline at 604-873-7000. The City of Vancouver is creating a sign-up sheet for those wanting to volunteer with the cleanup.   

Oiled Wildlife Society of B.C. is accepting donations on their website.