There are two good reasons not to visit the beach in Langdale today. First, the community’s only beach-access parking is blocked, and second, if you manage to get to the beach you could wade into an oil spill.
Saturday’s windstorm knocked down a tree near the beach-access stairs at 1484 Tideview Road. Heavy branches covered the road, blocking vehicle traffic. Area residents had to climb through thick tangles of branches to get through, and some were unable to drive their vehicles from their homes into Gibsons.
Capilano Highways appeared at the site on Sunday. The company, which maintains area roads for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, pulled the branches from a boat and cleared the roadway. However, the beach-access parking remains covered with debris. It’s impossible to park there.
Meanwhile on the weekend, a paddle boarder reported oil swirling through the water at Smith Cove. The beach access trail is halfway between there and the ferry terminal.
I went down the beach access trail this morning and took this video of oil sloshing through rocks and mussels near the shore. If you look closely you can see the pretty colours that can show when a flim of oil reflects light.
Often an oil slick doesn’t look so pretty. Here’s a shot of oil film I spotted from the Gambier-Keats ferry ramp at the Langdale Terminal at 10 am today. The white bar at the bottom is the handrail on the ramp. The wavy line above it is where the water above the rocky sea bottom meets the oil.
Then I went to the beach and shot these geese swimming into the oil slick.
When I got home I called Deborah Marshall, executive director of public affairs at BC Ferries. She said the crew at Langdale noticed oil sheens in the water on Saturday afternoon.
Engineers tested the spill and couldn’t identify it as coming from a ferry, but nonetheless BC Ferries did a clean-up. They positioned an oil spill boom out on the water Saturday and retrieved it Sunday. They reported the spill to the Coast Guard.
Sometimes it’s difficult to determine the source of an oil spill, Marshall said. “We have that spill equipment so that’s why we deployed it, regardless of whether it was from us or something else.”
“We certainly did what we could to clean it up with the spill booms, but you don’t get every single particle if it’s light.”
I guess some of those light particles had clumped together into the floating oil slicks I saw today. Until they dissipate, if you’re thinking of heading down to the sand near the ferry, you might want to try a different beach.