Potential diesel spill in Fraser River after vessel fire

METRO VANCOUVER — A 59-foot yacht containing diesel fuel caught fire and sank along a private dock near Derby Reach in the Fraser River Tuesday.

Mike Lowry with the Western Canada Marine Response Corp. said the organization was called out to the fire at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday morning and the pleasure craft vessel was sunk by the time the team arrived.

Lowry said the three-person crew deployed booms around the vessel to catch product that rose to the surface, and used absorbent, and estimated that 800 litres of the fuel was recovered.

"My understanding is that there might be some diesel trapped under the dock, but I’m not sure exactly how much that is," he said.

Most of the vessel salvage was complete Wednesday afternoon, and Lowry estimated the scene would be fully dealt with that evening.

Metro Vancouver sent out an email on Tuesday alerting municipalities of the incident, saying the vessel is believed to have contained 3,000 litres of diesel fuel.

“The tide is rising so should there be a fuel spill the in-coming tide could push the spill onto shorelines and into streams at Derby Reach and Kanaka Creek Regional parks,” the email states. “Parks staff have placed spill containment booms at locations to protect our parks watercourses.”

The booms were expected to be in place for several tide cycles – likely 48 hours.

Bill Morrell, in media relations with Metro Vancouver, said the smell of diesel fuel was noticeable at Derby Reach and Kanaka Creek, although nothing was visible on the water.

“So the instincts are that diesel fuel has vaporized,” he said.

Dan Bate, communications officer for Canadian Coast Guard, said Wednesday the exact quantity of the spill is unknown.

"But the amount was limited and contained by the owners representatives… as quickly as possible. I’m not aware of any further discharge at this point," he added.

Canadian Coast Guard’s environmental response team will be on scene monitoring the efforts of the owner, who has been found responsible for the incident.


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