Marine spill response report shows North Coast at risk

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PRINCE RUPERT— A marine spill response report released by the B.C. government on Thursday confirms the worst fears of local businesses, First Nations and communities about the risk that heavy oil tanker traffic poses to the region says Jennifer Rice, New Democrat MLA for the North Coast.

“We don’t even have the capacity to begin to clean up a small spill near Prince Rupert,” said Rice. “This report suggests we could see just three per cent recovery of a 10,000 tonne spill near Prince Rupert – heavy oil tankers can carry more than ten times that much. It’s shocking to me that anyone is talking about ramping up transportation of heavy oil when we aren’t even equipped to clean up a relatively small spill from existing traffic.”

Rice noted that despite the damning report the B.C. Liberal minister of the environment is still talking about “getting to yes” on the Enbridge pipeline project.

“It’s mystifying to me why the B.C. Liberal government is still contemplating the Enbridge pipeline when it puts thousands of north coast jobs at risk and threatens the culture and way of life of coastal First Nations,” said Rice. “This is a government that couldn’t even deliver on their promise to clean up the Queen of the North wreck. Good luck getting north coast communities and First Nations to trust the B.C. Liberals with heavy oil transport.”

Rice added that the report also makes it clear that once a tanker is loaded, the government is very limited in their ability to recover the costs of a spill.

“If we’re not equipped to deal with the risks that are out there on the water today, it’s premature to be discussing increasing those risks dramatically. Overall this report shows that workers in the fishing industry, those who work in tourism, and other people on the north coast who enjoy the benefits of a clean marine environment are right to be concerned about the heavy oil proposals that are being made for our region.”