The inadequate response to the spill of bunker-C fuel in English Bay in Vancouver is a wake-up call for residents of Vancouver Island, Glenn Sollitt, Green Party of Canada candidate for Courtenay-Alberni, said Friday.
“It tells us that everything the Harper government and Kinder Morgan told us about protecting us from spills from pipelines and tankers is just lip service,” Sollitt said through a news release.
The Greens say a slow response time, a lack of communication and a lack of coordination between agencies show there was no plan, other than to call a private company — half-owned by Kinder Morgan — hours later to ask for their help.
“Imagine if this had instead been a tanker spill off either the east or west coasts of Vancouver Island,” said Sollitt. “Imagine the blow to our local economies as we tried to clean up and recover.”
Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May also said the spill was likely worse due to a series of cuts made by the Conservative government.
“In the last few years, over a chorus of outrage and objections by British Columbians, Stephen Harper closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, the Vancouver Environment Canada station of Environmental Emergencies and the Marine Mammal Contaminants Programme within DFO,” May said.
The Environmental Emergencies Program in Environment Canada used to have regional offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Dartmouth and St. John’s. Since 2012, they have been replaced with a 1-800 number that rings in Gatineau, Que. and Montreal.
“No wonder spill response time was slow and communications with the City of Vancouver unacceptably slow,” said Claire Martin, Green Party candidate in North Vancouver, former national meteorologist, and former Environment Canada scientist.
— NEWS Staff/Green Party news release