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Park closures due to potential spill from capsized tugboat in Fraser River

Last Updated Aug 14, 2018 at 3:56 pm PST

The Fraser River, looking northwest from McDonald Beach Park in Richmond (Source: Google Maps)

Fraser River Park in Vancouver and off-leash dog area at McDonald Beach Park in Richmond closed

Recovery of boat will likely happen tomorrow, according to Ledcor

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The beach at Fraser River Park in Vancouver has been closed because of last night’s tugboat sinking near Deering Island. Part of a park in Richmond is also off-limits until further notice.

Vancouver Park Board staff say they’re closing the beach as a precaution after detecting a “faint fuel odour and sheen along the shore.”

What’s being described as contamination has also forced the City of Richmond to temporarily close the off-leash dog area at McDonald Beach Park, but the rest of that park is still open.

The 20-metre tugboat was towing a loaded gravel barge when it capsized Monday night around 11 p.m. All four crew members are safe because they were rescued by another vessel.

The Coast Guard’s Kiri Westnedge says it’s not clear how much diesel spilled from the George H. Ledcor which could have been carrying up to 22,000 litres.

“We have several Coast Guard vessels are on scene and they’re providing support and that includes a hovercraft with rescue divers and specialists standing by.”

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Dan Bate says booms are out and they’re working to collect any diesel that may have spilled.

“[The booms] were deployed at the site and down stream. Coast Guard vessels are on scene providing support,” he tells NEWS 1130. He adds it’s doubtful that a full 22,000 litres of diesel would have spilled.

“That doesn’t mean the tank was full, nor did the tank completely empty when the boat capsized…it’s unlikely that that maximum amount of fuel would have spilled.”

It’s not clear how long it will take salvage crews to remove the tugboat from the river, but Ledcor predicts the boat wont be out of the water until tomorrow, since the recovery mission requires larger equipment to be brought in.

It’s still unclear what caused the boat to tip over.