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Crews on spill response boats work to contain bunker fuel leaking from the bulk carrier cargo ship Marathassa, second right, on Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday April 9, 2015.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

Provincial and federal authorities are reviewing how they share information with Vancouver to ensure the city is promptly informed of any future oil spill off its coast, the mayor says.

The Canadian Coast Guard acknowledged Sunday morning that after bunker fuel was discovered Wednesday evening in English Bay there was a "short circuit" in its communication strategy, which led to a 12-hour gap in notifying the city. On Sunday evening, Mayor Gregor Robertson said the Coast Guard, which directs any spill response, had assured him that it would review its protocols and improve communication between the city and Emergency Management B.C. (EMBC), the provincial body tasked with any cleanup of the shoreline.

"I expect over the coming days we're going to see a new protocol for that emerge," Mr. Robertson said. "Our expectation is it should be faster and people should be aware of what's happening in real time rather than finding out the next day, later in the day, and people wandering around on the beaches not clear of what's taking place.

"We're right here and we deal with critical incidents whenever they happen in the city and we deal with them on an hourly basis … that's not a strength of some of the provincial and federal forces and agencies."

Mr. Robertson said a faster response time and more decisive action is needed on shore from EMBC, which was supposed to inform the city of the spill under current protocols, according to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which oversees the Coast Guard.

"When we have so many Vancouverites going to the beach and so many people wanting to start cleaning up, and not understanding the risks to their health from the contaminant, that made it challenging for some hours when there was no clarity from the beach cleanup teams and EMBC," Mr. Robertson said.

Premier Christy Clark had also criticized the Coast Guard's response time as not being of the "world class" quality B.C.'s coast needs. On Sunday, her office deferred questions about what constitutes world class to the provincial Ministry of Environment, which released an e-mailed statement pointing to a study it commissioned two years ago into spill response.

So far, 4,000 people have signed up with the city to help with the cleanup, but Mr. Robertson said they will be tapped in the weeks and months to come to monitor the beaches for any remaining oil or negative environmental effects from the spill.

Canadian Coast Guard Assistant Commissioner Roger Girouard said at a news conference Sunday that he understands the mayor's "frustration" and apologized for this delay, noting "there were about four or five places where that human factor came into play" and led to a "short circuit" in communication between agencies.

Mr. Girouard wouldn't divulge where these breakdowns occurred, because he said "I have too much respect for those partner organizations." Meanwhile, the latest aerial survey showed almost all of the oil had been cleaned up from the surface of Vancouver's English Bay, but Mr. Girouard said the Coast Guard don't know how much fuel the ship was carrying at the time of the spill, don't know how much may have sunk and are still warning the public to stay away from the area's beaches.

A tiny amount of bunker fuel could be seen of the estimated 2,700 litres that spilled into the bay from the anchored MV Marathassa Saturday evening, but crews are working to clean a tar-like ring around the bulk carrier's hull, replace the soiled boom surrounding the vessel and clean the hulls of other cargo ships and tankers in the bay, he added. He said those actions remain a priority but divers will "eventually take a look at the sea floor," in the "slim likelihood" that some of the fuel sank below the surface after the Wednesday night spill.

"Physics tells us it has to float and we did the work on the water in sufficient time to get it when it should still be afloat," Mr. Girouard said.

Staff from various agencies are now gathering base-line data about the water quality of English Bay and Burrard Inlet, where an oily sheen near east Vancouver's New Brighton Park was spotted Saturday, so that the long-term impacts to the area's ecosystem can be assessed and "hot spots" can be revisited for further cleanup, Mr. Girouard said.

Mr. Robertson said until further notice the following beaches are closed to the public: New Brighton, Crab Park, Third, Second, English Bay and Sunset. Mr. Girouard added that those areas are off limits "in the event that some tidal action pushes some black material that's out there ashore."

Mr. Girouard said beaches on Vancouver's west side have been assessed as clean. He said that the damage to the marine life appears to be minimal and that a dozen birds are still being isolated for further treatment. He cautioned the public to stay away and call authorities immediately if they encounter an oily bird, because hypothermia poses the greatest risk to their survival and approaching them may push them back into the cold water.

Mr. Girouard defended the speed of his agency's response to the spill, noting cleanup crews were at the scene within the six-hour international standard for such events. He said a recreational boater reported the spill around 5 p.m. Wednesday and by 8:06 p.m., the Coast Guard had called in crews from Western Canada Marine Response Corporation, the spill-response agency funded by the oil and shipping industry and certified by Transport Canada. An hour and 19 minutes later, crews were at the scene starting to deploy oil booms, he said.

Mr. Robertson said Vancouverites expect better and that the spill showcases the need to reopen the controversial Kitsilano Coast Guard station that the federal government shut down two years ago to save money.

Mr. Girouard said that base wouldn't have made a difference in the cleanup as it was primarily used for search-and-rescue operations and typically would only have had about 100 metres of boom available, not the more than 600 metres former station officers have told media was warehoused at the location.

Mr. Robertson said in a meeting with top Coast Guard officials he asked them to reopen the Kitsilano station with adequate spill-response equipment, but they said they have no plans to do so.