Location: Granville Island, Vancouver

Case number: 120-682

This incident occurred in False Creek, Vancouver, on September 12, 2015. The diesel oil was discovered on the surface of the water between the Burrard and Granville Bridges on the north end of Granville Island. The diesel fuel accumulated near two boats of the whale-watching company, White Whales Vancouver. The oil was found under the piers where the boats were secured, and near a fleet of other boats at the Granville Island boat rentals, which were also tied up in the vicinity. When the oil was discovered, during the early morning, the owner of the boat rentals contacted the Coast Guard. At the same time, the whale watching personnel commenced an active clean-up response. The necessary absorbent pads were purchased and streamed to soak up the fuel oil. The responders collected all the deployed absorbent pads. They were placed into garbage bags for disposal at False Creek fuels. During the response operation the owner of the Granville Island Boat Rentals assisted with the clean-up.

When the Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response (CCG ER) specialist arrived on scene, he boarded the whale-watching vessels and checked the bilges for diesel fuel. It was determined that the diesel fuel surrounding the boats and the docks did not come from the whale-watching boats. The Coast Guard employee speculated that the oil might have originated from one of the large fishing vessels that tie-up at the nearby fisherman’s wharf. There was a trail of diesel sheen visible across the channel. The tides and current could have caused the pollution to concentrate in the area of whale-watching boats and dock space. However, Coast Guard later advised that no investigation was conducted in the location of the Fisherman’s terminal.

On October 6, 2015, the Office Manager of Wild Whales Vancouver filed a claim in the amount of $959.02 with the Ship-source Oil Pollution Fund for costs and expenses incurred during response to the incident. On October 8, the Administrator acknowledged receipt of the claim, and requested that the claimant provide further information and support documentation, such as whether there are any service station or boat fueling facility in the area of the spill, that would support the likelihood of a land-based occurrence. Also, requested were copies of paid invoices for the purchase of absorbent pads and for invoices for the expense of disposal of the collected pollution. On October 26, the Administrator received the information requested.

During the investigation, the Coast Guard response officer was contacted by phone. In discussion, he confirmed that the incident had, in fact, occurred and was responded to in an appropriate manner by the two boat owners. Coast Guard followed up with a written letter in which it is noted that “the source remains a mystery”. Based on the findings of the investigation and assessment of the documentation filed as evidence, the Administrator considered that reasonable measures were taken in response to the occurrence and that the claimed amount was established.

On November 4, 2015, the Administrator made a final offer to Wild Whales Vancouver for the established amount of $959.02, plus interest, as full and final settlement of the claim. The offer was accepted on November 27, when the duly executed Release and Subrogation Agreement was received at the office of the Administrator. On December 17, 2015, a cheque in the amount of $965.96, inclusive of $6.94 interest, was mailed to Wild Whales Vancouver as full and final settlement. No recourse action was available because the incident was a mystery spill. Accordingly, on December 17, 2015 the Administrator closed the file.