Open letter to Christy Clark: Botched Vancouver oil spill response proves we are woefully unprepared

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      Editor's note: Tanker Free B.C. has issued the following open letter about the English Bay oil spill. The group is inviting people to add their signatures to the letter.

      Dear Premier Christy Clark,

      In a 2013 interview with Peter Mansbridge, you discussed Canada’s inability to handle a major coastal oil spill now, let alone in the future should new pipelines be approved. "We are woefully under-resourced," you said.

      In that same year your government rejected the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and tanker project in part because of concerns around oil spills. “British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents,” said then B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake in a May 31 media release. “Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.”

      On April 9th, 2015 a oil spill took place in the Vancouver Harbour. City of Vancouver staff were not even informed until the next morning and later that day it was revealed that 6 hours went by before booms were put in place. Oil has washed up on the beaches of Stanley Park, Jericho Beach and Ambleside Beach in West Vancouver among other places. No signs were put up on beaches to warn residents and visitors. At this time it is still unknown exactly how much oil was spilled or even by whom. The apparent lack of coordination seems to prove your point from 2013, we clearly are “woefully unprepared”.

      To make things worse we now know that the recently closed Kitsilano Coast Guard station could have had booms in the water within six minutes, as opposed to six hours. Next month the Vancouver Coast Guard Marine Communication and Traffic Service (MCTS) centre that regulates shipping movements in Vancouver Harbour is scheduled to close. These are our marine traffic controllers?!?

      There are also plans to close the Regional Marine Information Centre (RMIC).The RMIC notifies responders, government agencies such as Transport Canada, Environment Canada, Environmental Response and others so a proper response can be mobilized.

      The Harper Conservatives will CLOSE this notification centre on May 6, 2015 as part of the larger cuts to the west coast marine safety network. The Coast Guard will also cease providing anchorage assistance to ships, including tankers when the MCTS centre closes and moved to Victoria next month. This is strongly opposed by BC Coast Pilots and Port Metro Vancouver.

      Ottawa hasn't developed or implemented any replacement system for the dissemination of these pollution reports.

      Yet your government continues to allow the Harper Government to call the shots when it comes to decisions about pipelines that would lead to massive increases in tanker and other vessel traffic in BC.

      Please make this oil spill incident in our harbour the last straw. Please do as municipal leaders from across the province have requested via a resolution at the Union of BC Municipalities and withdraw BC from the National Energy Boards process regarding the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline project. And please formally withdraw from the “equivalency agreement” with the Federal Government that puts the environmental assessment and public consultation process under their control.

      These are clearly not world class safety standards. Please stand up for the BC coast and do not allow the discussion of increased tanker traffic to continue until the current safety issues are addressed.



      Ashleigh Robinson

      Apr 16, 2015 at 2:13pm

      The Premier has a chance to show us she's a leader and not a radio actress. We will not put up with are oceans being abused raped and killed. No pipeline no increased tanker traffic more harbour patrol. More harbour tanker inpsections! Harper doesnt deserve to be leader of Canada for Canadians are the trees rivers and oceans that surround are country. We as Canadians will not be dictated to! We are a democracy and we will tear down the government and build again for we do not bow down to corruption and greed! Canadians be heard and be loud we will not see our lands abused raped of wildlife and left to die. Our oceans feed us we must take care of them. The trees give shelter we must plant them as we take them. The rivers left unpolluted by oil sands. We are Canada Canadians be the change you want to see. Stand up and be heard! Silence will only make things worse! Money can't fix what's destroyed so money can't convince me to risk destruction

      Earl Richards

      Apr 16, 2015 at 2:42pm

      The Harpercons are responsible for this mess, because they closed the Kitsillano CG Base, which is a short distance from the spill site. The Harpercons have to be charged with negligence.

      Jon Q. Publik

      Apr 16, 2015 at 3:36pm

      But the Liberals bet on LNG and there is no way they would flip-flop on this cornerstone to their strong economy. The LNG industry in British Columbia is already on life support and if CC were to stop the discussions now it would effectively for all intents and purposes be dead.

      ellen binns dang

      Apr 16, 2015 at 6:36pm

      I am glad to see that business people are among the most concerned about the Vancouver oil spill. Commerce might have a better chance of creating change than the average person. How much damage will be done before common sense prevails

      Linda Holland

      Apr 17, 2015 at 1:32pm

      I hope the letter is cc'd to our mayor (Vancouver) as there must be some responsibility from a local level as well.

      Tom Hopkins

      Apr 17, 2015 at 4:44pm

      Any approval to build pipeline at this time would be absolutely insane given the proven inadequecie of spill response. Hold on to your hats lets see what the Harper government comes up with now.