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Oil disaster could happen on BC Coast
"There are few safeguards in place to prevent a disastrous oil spill in BC waters similar to what we are now seeing off the Spanish coast with the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige," said SPEC campaign coordinator Ivan Bulic. "Despite numerous reports and studies calling for improvements in tanker technology since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, little of substance has been accomplished."
After the Exxon Valdez disaster, current federal Environment Minister David Anderson was appointed BC special advisor on oil spills. He made 180 recommendations that included reducing coastal tanker traffic, improving ship safety and setting up an independent oil response agency. Anderson was particularly concerned that most tankers are only single hulled. He recommended that Canada negotiate with international regulators and shipping companies, most of which fly Liberian, Bahamian or other flags of convenience, to upgrade their tanker fleets to double hulled vessels. Anderson's work was instrumental in extending the existing moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration.
"According to research by the Georgia Strait Alliance, of the 10,000 freighters and tankers that sail Juan de Fuca Strait every year on their way to Vancouver or Seattle, most are still single hulled," said Bulic. "And BC still lacks an independent agency capable of responding to a significant spill like that in Spain. Yet the provincial government announced yesterday they are committed to offshore oil exploration. That would create a major increase in hazardous tanker traffic along sensitive parts of the BC coast."
The single hulled, Bahamian registered Prestige was carrying over 75 million litres of fuel oil when she broke up and sank off northwest Spain. In 1989 the Exxon Valdez spilled 41 million litres of crude into pristine Alaskan waters.
SPEC and more than 100 environmental, fisheries, eco-tourism and First Nations organizations formed the Oil Free Coast Alliance to maintain the current moratorium on offshore oil exploration.
The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
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Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552 Fax: 604-267-3342