Aerial view of diesel containment efforts from the U.S. tugboat Nathan E. Stewart

Aerial view of diesel containment efforts from the U.S. tugboat Nathan E. Stewart

B.C. ‘cheated’ on spill response, Clark says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau in B.C. Monday for announcement of Coast Guard upgrades

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Transport Minister Marc Garneau arrived in B.C. for an announcement on coastal spill protection, Premier Christy Clark told supporters it’s time for Ottawa to right a historic wrong and fix the Coast Guard imbalance on the Pacific side.

“We have been cheated by the federal government for a long time while resources go to the east,” Clark told 1,300 delegates at the B.C. Liberal Party’s pre-election convention in Vancouver Sunday. “And this prime minister has the chance to change it, and I believe that he is going to be the one that does it.”

Garneau toured Bella Bella and the cleanup operation Sunday after a U.S. tugboat and empty fuel barge ran aground while returning from Alaska on Oct. 13. The crew was rescued by a Coast Guard lifeboat from Bella Bella, and the tugboat sank in shallow water after being battered by heavy seas, where some of its diesel fuel leaked out.

After Trudeau tours Vancouver Harbour on the Coast Guard ship Sir Wilfrid Laurier Monday morning, he is expected to announce new measures.

B.C. government officials have asked Ottawa to provide capability to respond to a vessel in distress anywhere on the B.C. coast, in the worst of weather, in three hours or less. Incidents like the freighter Simushir that lost power and drifted towards Haida Gwaii in 2014 need an estimated three-hour response time to keep them from grounding.

That means three heavy rescue tugboats, one at Vancouver, one at Port Renfrew to dispatch to tankers and other vessels in outer Canadian waters, and a third at Prince Rupert to protect the North Coast.

B.C. estimates the cost of the tugs from $25 million to $50 million, plus a new course at B.C. Institute of Technology to train additional pilots and crews. B.C.’s 11 requests for Ottawa also include upgrading Prince Rupert’s Coast Guard station and a new agreement with the United States to respond to spills that cross borders in the north and south.

The B.C. government commissioned a study in 2013 that showed most of the crude oil traffic along the B.C. coast is from Alaska, and crude oil is only a third of the volume of shipped petroleum. Bunker oil used as fuel for all heavy ships and lighter fuels barged to coastal communities account for the rest.

A second report for B.C. released in February examined practices in Australia, Europe, the U.S., Norway and the ship escort system used in Prince William Sound, Alaska after the crude oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989.

The Alaska system includes a network of trained, on-call fishing vessels and crew that can provide an immediate first response to incidents at sea.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Quesnel RCMP Detachment is one of seven northern police buildings which can now connect directly to Prince George for daily bail hearings. (Observer File Photo)
Bail hearings going virtual in B.C.’s north

A court pilot project will see virtual courtroom cameras set up in seven RCMP detatchments

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The fence option chosen for the 461 Quatsino Boulevard development is the red lines that border the site plan. The fence will be roughly six feet high with the exception of the fence bordering Cranberry Street which will be eight feet high. (Boni Maddison Architects photo)
Fence to be erected between housing project and Kitimat homeowners

Residents of the Cranberry Street area are finally getting the fence they want

Rising demand for police to perform well-being checks and field calls for people struggling with domestic violence cases is driving the city to formulate a ‘situation table’ to connect vulnerable people with the services they need. (News Bulletin file photo)
Situation Table comes to Kitimat to support vulnerable people

Situation Tables identify and help vulnerable people in need.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Local carpenter Tyler Bohn embarked on a quest to create the East Sooke Treehouse, after seeing people build similar structures on a Discovery Channel show. (East Sooke Treehouse Facebook photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. carpenter builds fort inspired by TV’s ‘Treehouse Masters’

The whimsical structure features a wooden walking path, a loft, kitchen – and is now listed on Airbnb

The Attorney General’s Ministry says certain disputes may now be resolved through either a tribunal or the court system, pending its appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that reduced the tribunal’s jurisdiction. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Court of Appeal grants partial stay in ruling on B.C. auto injuries

B.C. trial lawyers challenged legislation brought in to cap minor injury awards and move smaller court disputes to the Civil Resolution Tribunal

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
‘In grief for our dying world’: B.C. climate activists embark on 4-day protest

Demonstrators will walk through Vancouver for the first two days before boarding a ferry Sunday morning

Most Read