Spill response boat sinks as Prime Minister appears to backtrack on tanker ban promise


October 19, 2016


With ongoing response to a diesel spill near Bella Bella in disarray, Prime Minister Trudeau’s comments prompt deep concern

VICTORIA, B.C. – Coastal residents are gobsmacked to learn that a boat working to retrieve diesel from a sunken tug in the Great Bear Rainforest has itself sunk. Details are still sketchy, but Dogwood has confirmed that a skiff operated by Florida-based Resolve marine salvage took on water Wednesday afternoon in Seaforth Channel, next to the wreck of the tug Nathan E. Stewart. A crew member was rescued, fortunately without injury.

UPDATE: A Coast Guard spokesperson told media the skiff “was briefly swamped during salvage operations with one person on board. The boat and the person were both recovered.” The Coast Guard is not releasing photos of the incident.

“If this is world-class spill response, it’s not good enough,” said Kai Nagata, communications director at Dogwood Initiative. “And after what we heard from the Prime Minister today, we are deeply concerned that Ottawa is still not taking oil spills on the West Coast seriously.”

Asked about his plans for a North Coast oil tanker ban on Vancouver’s Breakfast Television this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instead described how his government had reopened the Kitsilano Coast Guard station, 650 kilometers away from the diesel spill in the Great Bear Rainforest.

“The oil tanker ban was Trudeau’s idea. It was his promise to British Columbians. But when he was asked a simple question about his plan for the North Coast, he chose to talk instead about Kitsilano,” said Nagata.

The Kits coast guard base is a 36-hour trip by boat from the spill site. Fortunately a Coast guard search and rescue team was able to deploy from a base on Denny Island to rescue the crew of the Nathan E. Stewart. The rescue operation officially kicked off at 1:13AM.

UPDATE: Western Canada Marine Response Corporation says its first spill response team also deployed from Denny Island, arriving on scene at 10:30 AM. Larger boats from Prince Rupert and Vancouver began arriving at 5:30pm Thursday. Eight days into the operation, roughly 40 per cent of the fuel had been recovered.

The spill is still not cleaned up, a week after the Texas-owned tug pushing an empty oil barge ran aground and sank. “Today’s incident reinforces a simple truth. We are in no way prepared to respond to a full-scale oil spill on the West Coast, and likely never will be. The best way to prevent a catastrophe is to quickly bring in a ban on oil tankers,” said Nagata.

Dogwood Initiative is B.C.’s largest citizen group, uniting more than 246,000 supporters in the province against oil tanker expansion on the West Coast.

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Full Transcript:

Breakfast Television interviewer Riaz Meghji:

“And with the protection of the environment, there’s been much talk, here on the West Coast, with the recent diesel spill here in the waters off of Great Bear Rainforest, our premier has been critical of the federal government in terms of the disaster cleanup. What is your response to the idea of calls for an all-out tanker ban, to avoid these types of things happening in the first place?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

“Well over, over the past years there’s been a lot of under investment by the federal government in marine safety and spill response and that’s something we’re absolutely committed to turn around and one of the symbols of that is uh, as — uh, well as someone who knows Vancouver and the Lower Mainland as well as I do — one of the first things we did was reopen the Kits Coast Guard base. Because we understand that having responders there if something happens is absolutely essential. We’re continuing to make historic investments in marine safety, spill response, and the kind of protection of our extraordinary coast not just for its pristine natural beauty but for the tens of thousands of British Columbians who make their livings on those waters every single day.”


Lisa Sammartino
Campaign & Communications Coordinator

13 Responses to “Spill response boat sinks as Prime Minister appears to backtrack on tanker ban promise”

  1. George Norman says:

    The fact is that spill response is a poor way to deal with oil spills. Once the oil gets into the water, it’s almost impossible to recover all of it, and in cold water like The North shore, it takes decades or centuries to disappear. The best spill response is to prevent spills in the first place. Since it’s not “if,” but “when” a spill will occur, however, it makes sense to keep oil away from sensitive coastal areas.

  2. Ken says:

    Just like his father. Says lots and does nothing.

  3. Phillip Grosse says:

    What a pitiful response from the P.M.

  4. Phillip Grosse says:

    nice we have a cute P.M. too bad he`s not acute at his job.

  5. More empty words and rhetoric from this PM who thinks he can woo the public with this kind of bafflegab! It’s the old ‘bullshit baffles brains’ scam – I didn’t see the show – did he end with doing a bunch of selfies? That seems to be the trademark for his brand; pretty shallow don’t you think?

  6. Smells harper like to me justin time for real water protection in BC ban the moving of oil through sensitive areas.

  7. Alice bryson says:

    Federal and provincial Govt don’t care about oil spills of any kind. Does not matter the damage they cause. Oil companies are important though. Our prime minister is in power now and promises made can be forgotten.

  8. Corporate response appears lip stick on a pig,weak.
    20 hours to respond?

  9. Ken Biron says:

    Everything is contaminated by the extraction to beyond consumption process of so called Fossil Fuel, Transportation from the ground to you in any form is the most dangerous potentially disastrous step in that. Better to leave it in the ground. Yup. I do say that. #Leaveitintheground. Retrain skill sets, grow a plant or 2. The internal combustion engine globally will someday be replaced and will be used alongside in our travels with the succeeding energies of transportation emerging and being remembered today. What if creating fuel created food as waste?

    Renewable energy taking hold now is in its infancy but Tesla’s knowledge is slowly being rediscovered and will be realized Simple. We don’t make any new internal combustion engines and run only Hemp created fuel in existing engines till the the engines die because of the effects of time; giving way to their successor. We can Replace shorter lived rubber and that rusting car part with Hemp replacements as that could take decades, the engines are after all die hard and able to be modified, just like their generations of die hard owners. There is also a lot of employment with Hemp~ from seed to consumer when realizing the full benefit of the plant beyond replacing the Fossil fuel industry now. Can we think zero unemployment? Yes, we Cannabis! The future is fossil fuel free as a minimum use, it begins now with you influencing your community locally, regionally and federally.

  10. Sue Muhlfeld says:

    All i can say is that if we don’t do something about this soon we are in big trouble.

  11. Becky Rippel says:

    What’s missing here is that we were all warned by this video that explains how this barge got permission to enter the inside passage and why others are not. It was retro fitted to carry oil under the name “barge” instead of tanker to get permission. THIS IS WRONG!!!! Rules were broken and warnings were given and no one was watching. https://vimeo.com/127905057

  12. Jas says:

    It sounds to me like he was asked about a full coast tanker ban, not a North Coast tanker ban. There is already a ban on tankers in the north Coast, and this got through because it was not classed as a tanker. To ban tankers from the entire coast when so much of Canada’s economy depends on oil exports from Vancouver at this time is fairly unrealistic, as admirable a goal as it is, and reopening Kitsilano is a perfectly reasonable response to tanker traffic in and around Vancouver, where tankers are still allowed.

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