Forensic analysis shows fuel from MV Marathassa spread throughout Vancouver Harbour, Burrard Inlet

WATCH: Scientists have confirmed who was responsible for a sizable bunker fuel spill that fouled Vancouver’s English Bay in early April. Ted Chernecki reports.

The oil that spilled from a cargo ship in the waters off Vancouver in April spread throughout Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet following the leak, according to a report from Vancouver Aquarium researchers.

On April 8, about 2,700 litres of bunker C fuel spilled from MV Marathassa, a cargo ship that was on its maiden voyage to Vancouver.

Researchers with Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre Ocean Pollution Research Program collected a number of samples of water, sediment and shellfish for analysis in the days after the spill.

Program director Dr. Peter Ross and members of his team collected more than two dozen samples for forensic lab analysis. Researchers also submitted a sample of oil from the ship for testing and comparison.

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WATCH: Vancouver Aquarium study effects of English Bay oil spill

The team used high-resolution “fingerprinting” analysis that, they say, confirms that oil from the ship spread throughout Vancouver Harbour and Burrard Inlet.

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Data from the lab was analyzed by Ross and two other researchers.

The team claims the results have conclusively demonstrated that oil from the MV Marathassa did reach the shores of Stanley Park and parts of Burrard Inlet, including Lumberman’s Arch Beach and New Brighton Beach.

Courtesy: Vancouver Aquarium


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Researchers say the oil signature from the MV Marathassa and affected areas differed from that of other hydrocarbons frequently encountered in coastal B.C., such as Alberta oil and Vancouver Island coal.

READ MORE: Mechanical problem with MV Marathassa’s piping system led to oil leak: Transport Canada

Ross says they also noticed that several shoreline sediment samples from sites from Second Beach to English Bay Beach readily exceeded current Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life.

The team says these results indicate that aquatic organisms in the affected areas may have been exposed to harmful levels as a result of the spill.

The fuel leak shut down a number of local beaches for weeks. Vancouverites were told to avoid touching the toxic oil and stay out of the water. In the days after the spill, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans also closed some local waters to fishing of all shellfish and groundfish species as a “precautionary” measure.

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