The mysterious chemical leak that put a sheen on the water of Deep Cove bay Monday appears to have stopped, but the cause will have to go down in the books as unknown.
District of North Vancouver environment staff searched the shoreline, creek and storm drain outflows and uplands but had no luck.
“District staff conducted additional investigation work (Tuesday and Wednesday), and were unable to locate any source of the spill. Staff will keep the file open in case new information comes to light,” read a statement from Julie Pavey, the district’s manager of environmental sustainability. “This presents a good opportunity to remind people that nothing should ever be disposed of in a storm drain as they connect directly to our local waterways.”
Residents first called District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue to report a petrochemical smell in the area Sunday night.
Fire and Rescue members searched the area and confirmed there was a “hydrocarbon” smell coming from the water and called in Port Metro Vancouver, which investigates pollution in the harbour. PMV began their investigation Monday morning but no obvious water-based source turned up throughout the day.
“Our boat crew was out there. They had been there pretty much the whole day, driving the shoreline. They definitely saw it, some sheen there. The smell was kind of light and they’d get kind of a waft of it periodically,” said Graeme Bergh, PMV’s operations co-ordinator
Crews checked with the local marina, yacht club, business owners and residents and looked into the possibility that an illegally anchored vessel had sunk but no one noticed anything out of the ordinary.
“Everything appeared to be normal. It’s a strange one, to be honest. Our boat crew believed it was probably something that came from land. There’s some outflow there and a creek on the south side of the cove. Something may have been put in the creek,” Bergh said. “But we couldn’t find the source. . . . so at this time, it’s been determined, whether it’s diesel or gasoline or some sort of mixed chemical, it’s unrecoverable so there’s nothing we could do in terms of cleanup. It will just naturally get dissipated away with the tides and the currents,” Bergh said.
District environmental technicians scoured the area above the high water mark looking for a possible spill, including at a residential construction site, but also haven’t had any luck confirming the source.
On Tuesday afternoon, the sheen remained on the water, albeit diluted and centred around two spots near Parkside Lane and near Strathcona Road, Parker-Jervis said.
“The source of the pollution remains unconfirmed but it appears to have predominantly dissipated. They said there are two light sheens still visible on those two locations but those are at natural basins of creek outflow so speculation is an upland source,” Parker-Jervis said.
Spills like this are sadly common around Vancouver, Berghe said.
“We do our best to try to manage that but there are so many different avenues for something like this to happen here and once it’s happened, it’s happened,” he said. “All we can do is really look at the situation and try to determine the source and, going forward, try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Environment Canada has sent enforcement officers to the scene to monitor the investigation and determine if charges will be necessary.