BC not ready for major oil spill, minister admits after Vancouver diesel spill

Minster Mary Pollock Announces BC will move ahead on world-leading spill response team (BC govt)
Minster Mary Polak Announces BC will move ahead on world-leading spill response team (BC govt)

Republished with permission from the ECOreport.

EDITOR’S NOTE: As of late morning on June 15, the Coast Guard had revised the estimate to 500-5,000 litres of diesel spilled

Within hours of Vancouver’s second oil spill of the year, BC Environment Minister Mary Polak was reassuring the public that the province will move ahead on a “world-leading” spill response team.

1,000 litres of diesel

Fishermen’s Wharf in Vancouver - approximate location of diesel spill (Ruth Hartnup/Flickr)
Fishermen’s Wharf in Vancouver – approximate location of diesel spill (Ruth Hartnup/Flickr)

An estimated 1,000 litres of diesel spilled into the area around Fishermen’s Wharf late Sunday night. The spill volume The accident was reported at 10:30 p.m. and, because the federal government closed Kitsilano Coast Guard station,  clean-up did not start for another five hours. Polak said she “could not speculate” about the difference still having a base in Vancouver would have made. Luckily it was diesel, which stays on the surface and is easy to clean-up.

“The spill appears to have received an efficient and effective response,” said Pollack.

Yet she acknowledged that the present spill response is “outdated” and economic development “cannot be at the expense of our environment.”

Not ready for a major spill

The Minister added:

[quote]Our experience with smaller spills and near misses shows the province is not prepared for a major spill. Our goal is to have a world-leading spill regime in place and we recognize we are not there yet.[/quote]

She denied that this was in response to the proposed Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan pipeline projects, saying it was devised after years of conversations with local government, First Nations and industry.

“The vast majority of incidents to which we respond, as a ministry, have nothing to do with the oil and gas industry and everything to do with smaller types of industry, with the support of hazardous materials that support other industries,”said Polak.

Both of this year’s Vancouver spills originated with shipping.

New land-based spill response

The ingredients of BC’s new land-based spill response include:

  • A provincially certified, industry-funded Preparedness and Response Organization (PRO) to make sure trained people are ready to immediately respond to any spill, with appropriate equipment and in a co-ordinated way
  • New legislative and regulatory requirements for spill preparedness, response and recovery
  • Geographically based planning and response that will see active participation by First Nations, first responders and local communities

Steps To Come

The funding and leadership of this project is to come from industry.

If the Kinder Morgan pipeline project goes forward, this program will work in conjunction with their spill response program.

Legislation empowering the government to proceed will probably be forthcoming during the Spring of 2016.

“This won’t happen overnight, but we are targeting 2017 to begin implementing these new requirement,” said Polak.


About Roy Hales

Roy L Hales is the founder/editor of the ECOreport (http://theecoreport.com/). He started writing feature articles for weekly publications in 1982 and his work is published on websites like Clean Technica, Renewable Energy World, East County Magazine, The Watershed Sentinel and PV SolarReport. He lives on Cortes Island in BC.

5 thoughts on “BC not ready for major oil spill, minister admits after Vancouver diesel spill

  1. Could we please put a hold on all things Liberal (Site C, Kinder Morgan and fracking) until after the next election? More intelligent minds might just rule against their implementation.

    1. Let’s hope that with their current imbroglio vis-a’-vis the health researchers, that their demise comes sooner then the next projected election.

      They do appear to be in a hurry to inflict the maximum amount of harm to the province as is humanly possible before the next election date which would surely rout out their rot.

      1. “[S]urely rout out their rot.”

        That just gave me the willies cuz that’s what I staked a lot on last time—and what a disappointment THAT was! I’m actually quite relieved and positive about the next one, now that we have John Horgan at the helm of Opposition, but I’ll tell you what I won’t believe: popularity polls, that it’ll be a shoe-in, or any of MSM’s partisan excuse for journalism.

        That being said, time to question Minister Polak’s policy announcement: as alluded to above, rot spreads, and after a certain amount of contagion it gets difficult to tell where it came from or where it’s going—it looks pervasive, ubiquitous , and terminal for the entire BC Liberals party; in spite of losing half of its caucus (who split when they figured the gettin’ was good) before the last election, most of the original architects of BC’s brand of neo-rightism are still in control, and even more secretive than before. Any policy coming from any portfolio has to be adversely affected by this sad fact. Recall Polak’s response, such as it was, to the Mount Polley Mine disaster—a bone fide environmental catastrophe— where she rubbed elbows with the witch and wizard of whopperism—’nuff said; her reputation is further tattered by the revelation that she personally assessed construction siting at the controversial Jumbo Peaks, the un-invigilated municipality with zero population but a taxpayer-funded “city council” of BC Liberal cronies, to expedite performance obligations for the building contractor: by the time her eyeballing incompetence was discovered by a qualified engineer, the rush-job foundation was deemed to be in an avalanche track and must now be demolished and re-sited. This is typical of the BC Liberals: they’ve taken licence (from their unexpected—and definitely undeserved— election win) to continually shade the truth and game the system. Strike two, Ms Polak.

        Noting the spill-response policy she forecasts will be another matter of industry policing itself, and won’t ever be tested before the next election, I’d say it’s business as usual for the BC Liberals—world-class bullshit. I’d gladly call her out, but, with this excuse for a government, strike three, four, five—are all permissible.

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