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.

Just Posted

Prince Rupert swimmers come out champions in regional swim meet

Handful of swimmers qualify for provincials

MVP of the Week: Hockey and McArthur are like a pair of old chums

Gary McArthur founded a league for those who aren’t quite ready to hang up their skates

UPDATE: Missing Prince Rupert boy found an hour after community widely shares news story

Brayden Quick was given up by his friends after community rallies and shares story

Heart of Our City: Even kids can be a part of something big

Aisa Smithanik makes sure to include her family, and students, in her volunteer work

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

Most Read