Sunday, August 06, 2006
An oil spill fouled the waters of Howe Sound north of Vancouver, sending surfers scrambling out of the water. Dan Bate, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the cargo ship Westwood Anette hit a pier at a terminal and a fuel tank burst. "Coast guard emergency response is being dispatched," Bate said. He said a cleanup company was contracted immediately. The crew arrived and a hole in the ship was repaired about an hour after it ruptured. "The spill was contained as soon as possible," said Alex Mendes, a spokesman for Ocean Agencies, hired by Westwood Shipping to coordinate the clean-up. Mendes could not say how much oil spilled into the water. "All I can say is we've got about 20 personnel working out in the water with various heavy equipment." At least four windsurfers were covered in the sticky, black Diesel oil but there were no serious injuries.
Westwood AnetteOne witness said the slick was quickly pushed by the wind about 500 metres into Howe Sound, the picturesque stretch of water along the highway between Vancouver, Squamish and Whistler. "Lot's of oil. Black," said Brian Thompson, a photographer with the Squamish Chief newspaper. "The waves are bringing it onto the shore so the shoreline is definitely black. The tide is high right now, which is probably making it a lot worse. It's pushing it high on the banks and into the fauna," Thompson said after returning from taking pictures of the scene. He said the area is popular with windsurfers and police were telling them to get out of the water. "There were a few people that had already been slicked with oil on their boards and their arms and their legs." According to documents on the Internet, the Westwood Anette is a cargo ship flying Bahamian flag. It was built in Japan in 1987.