It is heartening to know that a shipmaster living in our own community has few concerns about VLCC supertankers in our West Coast waters (The News, June 5) and “never experienced any oil spills during his considerable time at sea.” I give credence to real people with real experience, not the spin masters of an ad firm. However, master mariners do not agree with his stand.
Comox Master Mariner, Mal Marsh’s view is that there is no defence against the arrival of crude oil or worse still, bitumen, onto the shoreline. He carefully analyzes the risks despite the addition of tethered tugs in the compulsory pilotage area and double hulled ships.
He reminds us that “this is the wild West Coast and calling Mayday won’t get you much response.”
The hostile waters of the Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance and the navigationally difficult channels are prohibitive to shipping. To send 200 or more VLCC tankers in and out of Douglas Channel each year “shows … the lack of respect given to the power of the sea and the vagaries of human error or mechanical breakdown.”
Master Mariner Brian Falconer would agree. He states that the Enbridge proposal minimizes the navigational dangers and deliberately manipulates the marine data for the Hecate Strait.
Like Master Mariner Marsh, he predicts that the use of tethering tugs would be fraught with problems.
Do we really think that with the high level of shipping proposed, year in and year out, there won’t be an oil spill?
That the common winter gales will never turn into hurricane force winds and dense fog will dissipate as the tankers reach the offshore approaches to the coast and the narrow channels of their destination?