Type of Presentation

Oral

Session Title

Community perspectives on oil spill planning and response

Description

On the morning of April 9th 2015, citizens of Vancouver (British Columbia) awoke to the sights and smells of oil on the waters and beaches of popular English Bay. At the time of the incident, considerable confusion existed about the source of the oil, the type of oil involved, and the amount spilled. Loss of federal capacity in recent years added to the confusion, with no coherent environmental monitoring plan implemented, and several concerned agencies leading their own sampling as a result. Early reports ascertained that a leak beginning around 5 pm on April 8 from the grain carrier MV Marathassa released an estimated 2,700 L of bunker C fuel overnight. This spill presented a direct threat to the local environment, as well as to the Vancouver Aquarium, which draws seawater for its collections from local waters off Stanley Park. Immediately upon learning of the incident from the news, the Vancouver Aquarium deployed five teams to respond or prepare as required. These included Ocean Pollution scientists, Marine Mammal scientists, marine mammal rescue, a dive team, and facility water managers. Emergency measures were implemented for water operations at the Aquarium, and seawater intakes were closed for an unprecedented four days. The Vancouver Aquarium conducted a forensic fingerprinting analysis of oil from the ship, oil from several shoreline locations, water samples at and around the seawater intakes, and other environmental samples. Staff scientists were able to use these hydrocarbon signatures to confirm the spread of Bunker C fuel as far as 13 km from the vessel, and well into Burrard Inlet. The modest MV Marathassa spill underscored the distinct need for baseline hydrocarbon levels and profiles for coastal British Columbia in support of improved understanding of the source, transport fate and effects of hydrocarbons from a multitude of natural and anthropogenic sources.

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Multi-agency environmental monitoring following the MV Marathassa oil spill in Vancouver in April 2015: are we ready for a big one?

2016SSEC

On the morning of April 9th 2015, citizens of Vancouver (British Columbia) awoke to the sights and smells of oil on the waters and beaches of popular English Bay. At the time of the incident, considerable confusion existed about the source of the oil, the type of oil involved, and the amount spilled. Loss of federal capacity in recent years added to the confusion, with no coherent environmental monitoring plan implemented, and several concerned agencies leading their own sampling as a result. Early reports ascertained that a leak beginning around 5 pm on April 8 from the grain carrier MV Marathassa released an estimated 2,700 L of bunker C fuel overnight. This spill presented a direct threat to the local environment, as well as to the Vancouver Aquarium, which draws seawater for its collections from local waters off Stanley Park. Immediately upon learning of the incident from the news, the Vancouver Aquarium deployed five teams to respond or prepare as required. These included Ocean Pollution scientists, Marine Mammal scientists, marine mammal rescue, a dive team, and facility water managers. Emergency measures were implemented for water operations at the Aquarium, and seawater intakes were closed for an unprecedented four days. The Vancouver Aquarium conducted a forensic fingerprinting analysis of oil from the ship, oil from several shoreline locations, water samples at and around the seawater intakes, and other environmental samples. Staff scientists were able to use these hydrocarbon signatures to confirm the spread of Bunker C fuel as far as 13 km from the vessel, and well into Burrard Inlet. The modest MV Marathassa spill underscored the distinct need for baseline hydrocarbon levels and profiles for coastal British Columbia in support of improved understanding of the source, transport fate and effects of hydrocarbons from a multitude of natural and anthropogenic sources.