VANCOUVER, BC, Canada, March 18, 2013 –/WORLD-WIRE/– An announcement today from the federal government about increased safety measures for oil tankers on the BC coast provides little solace for citizens concerned about a major spill, says the Wilderness Committee.
The new strategy, introduced at a press conference today by Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis Lebel, will purportedly involve more rigorous inspections, enhanced aerial monitoring of tankers and the creation of a new “Tanker Safety Expert Panel”. Touted by federal authorities as “world class”, the spill prevention regime was formulated as a direct response to provincial concerns about the increased tanker traffic associated with the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipelines.
“People in BC are very worried about the massive increase in risk that we’d be exposed to if these two pipelines go ahead,” said Eoin Madden, the Wilderness Committee’s Climate Change Campaigner.
“To say that a few extra flights and some inspections of older vessels will increase tanker safety is an insult to British Columbians who care about protecting our coast.”
Recent cuts and closures at federal agencies – including the Canadian Coast Guard and marine communications centres – have left communities on BC’s coastal shipping routes far less equipped to deal with a potential oil spill, despite proposed increases in tanker traffic. With most marine-based spills, even the best cleanup efforts are only able to recover about 10 per cent of the oil spilled.
“Such dramatic increases in tanker traffic reduce the time we have to wait before a spill occurs, and force us to look at the spill response provisions we have – which are totally inadequate,” said Madden, who was in attendance at today’s press conference.
“There also seems to be an assumption on behalf of the federal government that these pipeline proposals are a done deal, though regulators have not approved the Kinder Morgan or Enbridge projects, and it’s become very clear that the citizens of BC don’t want them to be approved,” he said.
The proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline would bring more than 400 tankers per year to Metro Vancouver via the Burrard Inlet, and the proposed Northern Gateway project would see more than 250 supertankers per year navigating through difficult channels on BC’s north coast.
Recent polling has shown that a majority of British Columbians oppose both the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and the associated increases in tanker traffic. Both projects are facing strong opposition from a variety of groups including First Nations, local governments and environmentalists.
For more information, contact:
Eoin Madden, Climate Change Campaigner, Wilderness Committee