Make a claim
Impacted by the oil spill?
Call 1-844-616-1440 to register a claim.
The line is open 8:00am to 4:00pm daily.
The M/V Marathassa, a Panamax bulk grain carrier, arrived in English Bay early on the morning of April 6, 2015.
Late in the afternoon on April 8, at 4:48pm, the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications Traffic Services Centre received the first report of a fuel oil spill sheen in the water, in English Bay close to the M/V Marathassa.
Several people reported similar observations, including one report indicating there were tar balls or fuel oil in the water.
These reports initiated Port Metro Vancouver to assess the fuel oil spill, and the Canadian Coast Guard to launch a fuel spill response, with the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), and other partners.
On April 9, 2015, WCMRC notified the City of Vancouver of the fuel spill at around 5:00am.
Once notified, we activated the Emergency Operations Centre and dispatched City staff to participate in Unified Command, the leadership group that oversaw the fuel spill response.
Unified Command consisted of the Canadian Coast Guard, responsible party representatives, WCMRC, Province of BC, City of Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, City and District of North Vancouver, and Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish First Nations.
Learn more about the fuel spill size, clean up estimates, type and spill movement and trajectory.
The Canadian Coast Guard and WCMRC encountered significant fuel on the water in English Bay. Transport Canada is still investigating the fuel spill size.
According to the Canadian Coast Guard, on April 9, an estimated 2,800 L of fuel was on the water based on their over-flight observations at 10:00am. As WCMRC recovery operations had already been underway for some time when the over-flight observations were made, it is reasonable to conclude that the fuel spill was larger.
By 6:06 pm, it was estimated that the remaining fuel oil on the water had been reduced to 667 L, due to recovery operations, evaporation, dispersion in the water, and quantities being deposited on beaches.
The working estimate of the total actual fuel oil recovered by WCMRC was 1,400 L. This is a subjective estimate by experienced oil spill responders based on the estimates of the quantity of oil collected on the water and accumulated on boom, the vessel, and sorbent pads.
Bunker C fuel is a heavy fuel that powers commercial ships.
When Bunker C fuel spills on water, some of the fuel may evaporate into the air. The fuel that isn’t recovered will disperse in the water column.
Bunker C fuel can be carried hundreds of miles in the form of scattered tar balls by winds and currents.
Some of the oil spilled hit the shorelines and most extensively in Vancouver at Siwash Rock, Stanley Park, and at John Lawson Park and surrounding shorelines on the North Shore.
Other impacted areas included New Brighton Park, Crab Park, Second Beach, Third Beach, English Bay, and Sunset Beach.
The City collaborated with Vancouver Coastal Health to test soil and water in order to safely re-open the beaches.
Learn about the role we played, the Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Technique, and how you helped.
Multiple levels of government have a role to play in responding to oil spills.
The Canadian Coast Guard oversees on-water response. The province supports shoreline assessment and land based impacts. Impacted municipalities and First Nations play an important role in bringing forward local concerns, and managing impacts to public health and safety.
The polluter has an important role to play. They are represented in Unified Command.
Vancouver Park Rangers and members from the Vancouver Volunteer Corps and the neighbourhood patrolled the Vancouver shoreline, assessing impacts on a daily basis in support of cleanup operations and liaising with the public.
Park Rangers patrolled Stanley Park, the Seawall, and beaches.
Our call centre staff coordinated reports from the public regarding oil on the shoreline and wildlife in distress and directed them to the units on the ground in charge of cleanup operations.
Staff from all departments supported the Emergency Operations Centre and the activities of Unified Command at Canada Place.
The long-term consequences of the fuel spill are still unknown. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, heavy oils like Bunker C fuel can persist in the environment for months or even years.
Bunker C fuel may also smother marine organisms, and over the long term may cause tumors and chronic health problems in some organisms.
We are encouraging the responsible party to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact assessment and are waiting for their work plan.
The Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Technique (SCAT) was developed during the response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. It is a systemic way of surveying shoreline following an oil spill and is a regular part of oil spill response.
A SCAT team worked on Vancouver's shorelines, led by the responsible party, and carried out by a private contractor at the direction of Unified Command.
The team was supported by the BC Ministry of Environment, City staff, and Park Rangers. The City also contracted an independent third-party expert to accompany the team as they carried out their assessment of Vancouver's beaches and shoreline. The team arrived on the site of the English Bay spill April 9.
Once clean-up operations wrapped up, the Canadian Coast Guard initiated a project management office with many of the members of Unified Command.
This office oversees and participates in on-going activities, such as the environmental impact assessment, and identifying opportunities to improve oil spill response in the region.
We have taken a leading role in discussions on a multi-agency regional response plan that takes into consideration the unique characteristics of Burrard Inlet.
During the fuel spill response, the public reported any fuel, or wildlife in distress because of the fuel spill to the City.
Please continue to let the Provincial Spill Hotline know if you see any further oil by calling 1-800-663-3456.
Trained members of the Vancouver Volunteer Corps were utilized and more than 4,000 members of the public signed up to help with the M/V Marathassa spill cleanup efforts.
This was an amazing outpouring of support. We encourage you to sign up with the Vancouver Volunteer Corps if you want to get training to support future emergency responses.
To view our news release updates by date, select 'Show more'.
Health advisories on all Vancouver beaches with the exception of Crab and New Brighton parks have been lifted by Vancouver Coastal Health and the City.
The Coast Guard has confirmed that any recoverable oil on the water has been retrieved and environmental investigations are ongoing to assess the extent of any oil that may have sunk from the water surface or settled on the seabed.
Vancouver Park Rangers, Vancouver Volunteer Corps, and the Neighbourhood Emergency Assistant Team are supporting shoreline assessment and clean-up operations done by Environment Canada and their contractor and acting as public liaison.
The Province, Ministry of Environment, Western Canada Marine Response, and non-government organizations, including Oiled Wildlife Society and Focus Wildlife are on scene actively responding to wildlife affected by the fuel spill.
The Federal Government has advised us that the formal oil spill recovery and cleanup on the shoreline will begin this afternoon around 2:00pm.
The Park Board is urging you and your pets to stay out of the water and avoid the high tide line at the beaches around English Bay until the impact of an oil spill last night can be assessed.
Boaters and watercraft operators should stay away. Do not go to the beaches to offer assistance as there are potential health risks.