English Bay spill response a 20% failure

Editorial

Wednesday, April 15 2015

To jump on the English Bay oil spill situation - the only people surprised by the length of time it took for any private response company to respond to the spill are....well...no one.

Opponents of the marine transport of petrochemical goods have for years said there is no such thing as ‘spill-proof’.

The reality is, as soon as ships start taking any kind of oil or gas product out of a harbour, there will be a spill.

It is in the nature of liquid containers to eventually start leaking. Just ask any parent about so-called spill-proof water bottles.

Christy Clark went on air and blasted the federal government for their inadequacy for dealing with what was (by industry standards) a small spill. 

Talk about a pot and kettle situation. This is the same premier who’s Ministries of Mining and Environment did such a great job dealing with the Mt. Polley tailings ponds situation...

Clark actually said that it might be time for the federal government (in the form of the Canadian Coast Guard) to hand responsibility for organizing oil spill cleanups over to the provincial government.

Ummm.....can anyone living in the coastal communities vote on that? And people....please vote no. This is not a Premier who has demonstrated any willingness to spend money above and beyond what she calls the fiscally-responsible level.

The Federal representatives of course went on media after Clark and said an 80% containment of a spill is good by industry standards.

The problem, dear Federal representatives, is 80% containment is not good by the standards of anyone else. Not those who live along the shorelines of English Bay; not those lining the seawall in Stanley Park.

To those people, the current system is a 20% failure. Whether that is the response time, the equiment available to contain, or just plain inability to deal with such situations, the bottom line is the spill containment was a 20% failure.

Until, and unless, a much better containment system is put in place, there have to be brakes put on future oil and gas shipping expansions in the Salish Sea. Such systems much include containment of the initial spill, capabilities of cleaning it up, and fines which actually hurt a company in the pocket book. Anything less will make spills a simple cost of doing business.

But this is preaching to the choir. An island community such as Gabriola already understands what needs to be done in terms of prevention of spill damage in our island community.

Too bad we can’t get Ottawa or Victoria to hear us.