The Stanley Park seawall near Siwash Rock will be closed to the public until further notice to allow for crews to begin the cleanup effort along the shoreline.
According to a release by the Park Board, the Coast Guard is directing Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in the shoreline cleanup operation, which began this afternoon.
The federal government has advised both the City of Vancouver and Park Board that volunteers are currently not be required for the cleanup effort. Specialized crews wearing protective gear will perform the oil recovery and cleanup.
Thousands of registrations to volunteer for the shoreline cleanup were submitted on the City’s online registration form since yesterday afternoon.
“We appreciate the thousands of offers of help from citizen volunteers and are impressed by the passion local residents have shown for our beaches and wildlife,” reads the Park Board’s statement. “We will continue to work with the federal and provincial authorities to find ways our volunteers can help as the cleanup continues.”
There have been reports of oil debris washing up on downtown Vancouver beaches, Kitsilano Beach and West Vancouver’s Ambleside Beach. As of today, about 80 per cent of the estimated 3,000 litres of bunker fuel oil released by a newly built grane-carrying cargo vessel has been contained and recovered, although some of the substance may have already sunk to the bottom of the inlet.
The shoreline cleanup effort will begin at Stanley Park and then gradually shift southwards towards English Bay and Sunset beaches. Crews will also be scouring the shoreline of West Vancouver to clean and remove any oil debris.
A number of oiled birds have been found and taken by Park Board rangers to a refuge for treatment.
Local municipal officials have asked the public to stay away from the beaches in downtown Vancouver, Kitsilano and West Vancouver and to keep pets out of the water.
Vancouver Park Board rangers are patrolling the city’s beaches and signs have been erected cautioning people to stay out of the water and refrain from performing their own cleanup efforts.
The oil substance has been deemed highly toxic and carcinogenic. Individuals who come in contact with the oil should wash the area of skin thoroughly with clean water and soap.