Cullen says government should be embarassed by Grenville Channel spill

MP Nathan Cullen is calling on the government to come up with a permanent solution to prevent future leaks in Grenville Channel.

Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen is calling on the government to come up with a permanent solution to prevent future leaks form the the U.S. Army’s Brigadier-General M.G. Zalinski, which sank in 1946 with 700 tonnes of bunker fuel on board.

As reported yesterday, members of the Gitga’at Nation of Hartley Bay reported a fuel slick five miles long and 200 feet wide in the waters of Grenville Channel. Today the Coast Guard, who sent a ship from Prince Rupert to respond, said they would be sending a dive team down to repair the leak and examine the ship, but Cullen said that simply isn’t enough.

“If draining the ship not an option and raising the ship is not an option, the government needs to come up with an option. If this was a leaking ship in Vancouver harbour or Lake Ontario, this wouldn’t be an ongoing thing and those areas don’t rely on the ocean resources nearly as much as Hartley Bay residents so the risk is greater,” he said, calling the spill “a serious, serious threat”.

“We need to stop the groundhog days. The ship leaks, the community calls people in to fix it, they take some time to respond then patch it up and some years later it leaks again. We need to stop this band-aid resolution.”

As for what can be done to get more action on the spill in Grenville Channel, Cullen said the answer is simple.

“What can we do? We can embarrass them. The government should be embarrassed by this. At a time when they are pushing pipelines and tanker traffic they can’t even clean-up from this ship that sunk over 60 years ago,” he said.

“The government doesn’t gain a lot of credibility when it can’t even do something like this when they are saying they will protect the marine environment in the future…It really shows lack of ability to follow through on threats in the  future if they can’t address past threats.”

Cullen also said this shows the importance of having a better response system in light of the recent closure of the federal office in Vancouver that works with industry on spills.

“This is a test case. A community notifies the government, the government says they’re going to clean up and the response time is lacking…Speed is of the utmost important when it comes to response time to minimize the impact from any spill,” he said.

“And this is bunker c fuel, raw bitumen is 100 times worst. Ask any spill company and they’ll tell you that.”