Victoria harbour, Fraser River are B.C.’s most polluted coastlines: study

Environmental group makes pollution tracker and examine 55 coastal areas

  • Feb. 8, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Anyone living in B.C. can now see just how polluted their coastline is, thanks to a pollution tracker.

The organization Ocean Wise tracked common pollutants across 55 coastal locations to pinpoint the most troubling areas.

Every sample collected by researchers was contaminated by some chemical, with the most common ones being coolants, paint additives and a “coal tar” for coating water tanks and bridges.

Polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, which was used as a coolant and a coating for bridges and other infrastructure, was found in large amounts all along the coastline.

Researchers said the findings could help explain why the endangered southern resident killer whale on the B.C. and Washington State coasts carry the highest PCB levels of any mammal in the world.

The tracker also found high levels of hydrocarbons, which are chiefly found in oil and gas products, and researchers noted that continued study could help generate a baseline level that would help with oil spill responses.

The Victoria harbour is especially vulnerable because it is shallow and has little water movement. The four sites measured in there all had some of the highest pollution levels in B.C.

Other heavily polluted sites included the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River.

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