Oil spill in English Bay called “scary reminder” of risks of increased tanker traffic due to Kinder Morgan pipeline

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      The fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay should serve as a warning about the risks posed by oil tankers, says environmental activist Ben West.

      The executive director of Tanker Free B.C. was referencing the discharge of bunker fuel from a grain ship Wednesday night (April 8).

      “This is a scary reminder of the potential nightmare scenario of what could happen if there’s increased tanker traffic along our coast,” West said in a statement.

      “Hopefully this incident can be contained, although it’s not good news that oil is showing up at Sunset Beach,” West also said.

      West went on to mention the proposed expansion by Kinder Morgan of its Trans Mountain pipeline between Strathcona County, near Edmonton, Alberta, and Burnaby in B.C.

      The project would twin the pipeline, increasing its capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 890,000 barrels per day.

      The $5.4-billion expansion also includes 20 new tanks to be added to the storage terminals in Burnaby and Sumas in B.C., and in Edmonton.

      The Westridge Marine Terminal in Burnaby would be upgraded with three new berths.

      West said: “Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and tanker project would see an increase from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers a year carrying primarily tar sands bitumen which is more likely to sink in the marine environment potentially causing significant harm.”

      Referring to the grain ship that spilled fuel, West also said: “It may actually be lucky that this is only bunker fuel and not bitumen. If this were a spill of tar sands oil and this much time had passed without it being contained it likely would be game over for any kind of clean up.”

      The oil slick was visible in the waters of English Bay.
      Craig Takeuchi

      The Georgia Strait Alliance also cited Kinder Morgan’s expansion project in a statement reacting to the fuel spill in English Bay.

      “We need stronger spill response to deal with the threat we already face, and we need to minimize future risks by saying no to projects like Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion that would dramatically increase tanker traffic in our waters,” executive director Christianne Wilhelmson said.

      Wilhelmson also said: “With a toxic substance like heavy bunker fuel, even a relatively small spill can be highly damaging to marine life. Today’s accident is a grim reminder of the environmental risks we face from existing shipping traffic in our waters, and raises questions about how prepared we are to deal with spills, and who will bear the costs of clean-up.”



      NOT IF

      Apr 9, 2015 at 12:53pm

      but when. Now it has happened. 'Smart' move to get rid of the local coast guard, Herr Harper - DOH! SAY NO TO TANKERS!! NO TO FOSSIL FUELS!!!


      Apr 9, 2015 at 2:24pm

      Why would Ben West be having nightmares about spills from the twinning of the pipeline when there's already oil tankers plying the inlet and have been for many decades? Does he think that bitumen oil would be a nightmare and not any other type of oil spill? I thought a large spill would be nightmarish regardless of what type of oil it was?

      Perhaps he needs to spend more time thinking about the situation and especially he needs to look at the name of his organization 'Tanker Free BC' and either fight to have all tankers banned from all of BC waters or change the name to 'Bitumen Tanker Free BC' if he only wants to block the proposed expansion. Something tells me he's a bit scattered and needs some focus.

      Jon Q. Publik

      Apr 9, 2015 at 2:27pm

      @NOT IF - not sure if you realize this but the coast guard isn't the primary responder to these type of incidents, oil spills are handled by the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation which is a member based organization that is comprised of all major users including the oil refineries etc.


      Apr 9, 2015 at 2:43pm

      If this is the BEST IN THE WORLD type response we can expect if/when we get a 500% increase in tankers, we might as well start paving the beaches right now.

      Douglas Bjorkman

      Apr 9, 2015 at 3:50pm

      While it is true that tankers have been plying our coast for years there are two factors that even the most palely green will recognize. One is that Bitumen products from the Tar Sands of Alberta are particularly nasty as compared to refined products that often evaporate even before they can be properly cleaned up. The Tar is almost impossible to clean up in a marine environment.

      Secondly the amount of traffic in Vancouver Harbour has increased dramatically particularly of pleasure craft whose operators are often either drunk or incompetent or both. I spent many years racing in Vancouver Harbour and witnessed much incompetence however caused. It may well be time to ban tankers of crude products from busy harbours altogether.

      I would hope that some way of transporting this energy safely can be found. I am not an expert but an obvious stopgap would be to refine the products here with various positive spinoffs. But CC will still be an isuse but that is another story

      Earl Richards

      Apr 9, 2015 at 4:27pm

      Why didn't the Western Canadian Marine Response Corporation stop the toxic, bunker fuel pollution of Kitsilano Beach? Keep British Columbia beautiful.

      That aint oil.. it's hay!

      Apr 9, 2015 at 6:49pm

      Political hay that is.

      CBC puts the estimate at 1400 litres cleaned up and 2800 litres still in the water.
      Roughly 4200 litres in all.

      1000 litres fits roughly into the space under your kitchen table so multiply by 4 of those.
      Not pleasant, but not catastrophic.

      Yet pure gold to the anti-everythings.

      It's probably a blessing. FIre drill and all that.

      Douglas Bjorkman

      Apr 10, 2015 at 10:01am

      A previous comment suggests that as "only" perhaps 4200 litres was spilt the matter is trivial as that amount is only 4.2 cubic meters of nastiness. However what he/she nelects to consider is that oil spills may be toxic at a thickness of a few microns and that quantity will cover several square kilometers. No trivial matter at all.

      We are indeed fortunate the situation was not worse but it is no reason to gloat or to be a Pangloss.

      Can't wait..

      Apr 10, 2015 at 11:02am

      Until we lose our beaches and coastline. I'm soooo pumped for that!! Go Humans! lol

      @ Earl Richards...

      Apr 10, 2015 at 11:23am

      Because Mr.Harper and the Conservatives felt it wasn't needed anymore and shut it down remember? Have to luv our PM.