Environmentalists and politicians are using this week's oil spill in English Bay to highlight the risks of twinning Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline and multiplying the number of tankers passing through the waters around Vancouver.
Ironically, Kinder Morgan apparently owns a majority stake in the company called in by the Canadian Coast Guard to clean up the spill that led the City of Vancouver to warn people to stay away from local beaches.
That firm is Western Canada Marine Response Corporation. The WCMRC website states:
We are completely funded by industry. Our shareholders are the 4 major oil companies (Imperial Oil, Shell Canada, Chevron and Suncor) and Trans Mountain pipelines. Our membership of more than 2,000 marine operators, air services, lumber mills, fishing camps, ferries, port authorities and cruise ships annual dues assist in WCMRC’s funding.
Today (April 10), the Green Party of Canada raised questions about this situation. Former Whistler mayor Ken Melamed, Green candidate for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea-to-Sky Country, stated in a news release:
Kinder Morgan owns more than 50% of the company called in to clean up the spill, Western Canadian Marine Response Corp. We need to know if the out-sourcing and privatization of spill response contributed to the unacceptable delays and if it is in fact cost effective for taxpayers?
Meanwhile, the David Suzuki Foundation asserted that the "slow and confusing response" to the bunker-fuel slick proves that authorities are not ready for a major oil spill on the B.C. coast. In a news release, Jay Ritchlin, the foundation's director general for B.C., said:
Our scenarios show that oil spills on the B.C. coast can be very difficult to deal with, and even with the best response only 15 per cent of the spill would likely be recovered. In the past 24 hours the response from the Coast Guard, Port Metro Vancouver and other agencies hasn’t demonstrated that we have the world class oil spill response promised by the federal government.
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also chimed in with this statement:
I used to live in this neighbourhood, and I know that any spills of this nature are of serious concern to British Columbians and all Canadians. Stephen Harper’s cuts to marine safety resources and the closure of Vancouver’s Kitsilano Coast Guard Base each undermine our ability to respond to spills like this. A new Liberal government will re-open a full-service Coast Guard station in Vancouver and re-invest in marine safety and oil spill response capacity on the BC coast.
The city says it wasn't notified about the spill for 12 hours. The park board has warned people and pets to "stay out of the water and avoid the high tide line at the beaches around English Bay".