Andrew Bailey Photo Pacific Rim National Park staff cleared a shipping container that was up on Long Beach next to Incinerator Rock in November. A total of 35 styrofoam insulated containers are believed to have spilled off a cargo ship on Nov. 3, 2016.

Johns asks govt to fund Hanjin cleanup

Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns demanded the Liberal government “get to work” and provide federal funding for the cleanup of the Hanjin coastline debris field between Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Johns raised this issue during Question Period in Parliament, Sept. 6.

“Last week, the government announced on Twitter that it signed on to the UN CleanSeas initiative, but today it is obvious that there is no funding and no plan to meet our obligations,” Johns said. “Unfortunately, Tweets and selfies will not clean our coastlines.”

Johns indicated that volunteers in his Courtenay-Alberni riding are now in their 10th month of cleaning up the largest marine debris spill in decades on the Island’s west coast.

“Yet there has been zero funding for this cleanup from the Liberal government; just delays, excuses, and rhetoric,” Johns pointed out,. “When will the government finally get to work and fund the cleanup of the Hanjin debris field?”

The Liberal government’s response to Johns question left the MP unimpressed.

“The Transport Minister just stood up and promoted a program that will not even come into force until next year, and may not even cover events like this” Johns said. “This is a serious problem that requires immediate action.”

The Hanjin debris field was caused when 35 large containers were spilled by an international cargo ship in the Pacific Ocean last November.

Parks Canada recovered $76,600 from the estate of the now-bankrupt Hanjin Shipping Company, and initially agreed to fund the removal of debris collected by community volunteers on non-Crown beaches. But it no longer has sufficient resources to complete the job.

To date, no federal funds have been utilized in the cleanup effort, and the debris gathered by local groups, such as Surfrider, remains in bags along the coastline awaiting removal.

— NEWS Staff

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