Coast Guard head defends ‘excellent’ oil spill response (with VIDEO)

Amount of bunker fuel still in water off Vancouver 'negligible' as cleanup shifts

A crew from Western Canada Marine Response Corp. tends an oil containment boom surrounding the grain freighter Marathassa Sunday in Vancouver harbour.

The head of the Canadian Coast Guard says she’s happy with the response to last Wednesday’s spill of fuel oil from an anchored grain freighter in Vancouver harbour, despite sharp criticism from the premier and Vancouver’s mayor.

“I am very pleased with how it’s gone,” Commissioner Jody Thomas told reporters Monday. “The water is clear. The beaches are being cleaned. There is no substance floating in the water. It is an excellent response.”

Officials say the remaining bunker C oil in the water is “negligible” and all recoverable amounts of the estimated 2,700-litre spill have been removed.

Cleanup efforts have shifted to the beaches of Stanley Park and West Vancouver.

A wildlife rehabilitation centre is being set up at HMCS Discovery to treat wildlife such as the roughly dozen oiled birds found so far.

Thomas said the response – it took about six hours to get booms in place around the leaking MV Marathassa – was within the federally mandated response time of 10 hours.

Transport Canada officials say the spill size estimate is conservative and based on aerial flyovers with sensors and other observations.

They expect to calculate a more precise estimate of the amount of unrecovered oil that either evaporated or sank by determining how much of the fuel oil the Marathassa arrived here with and subtracting the amount still on board.

A valve malfunction is thought to be the cause of the oil release, although details haven’t been released.

Federal officials insist the vessel’s owners will pay for the cleanup. There’s no estimate yet of that cost.

The spill was reported at 5 p.m. April 8 but it was three hours before the Coast Guard decided to activate the industry-funded cleanup agency, Western Canadian Marine Response Corp., which arrived at 9:25 to start deploying booms. The amount of oil was initially thought too small to be recoverable until heavier concentrations were found.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called the response “totally unacceptable.”

Premier Christy Clark used the same words and said the Coast Guard “didn’t make the decision in a timely manner” to deploy the equipment and personnel available.

If the Coast Guard can’t respond quickly enough, Clark said, it should transfer leadership authority to the province, which has long experience overseeing incident command for forest fires and other emergencies under its jurisdiction.

Robertson and Clark were also critical of federal government cuts to the Coast Guard and spill response personnel in the region.

Federal Industry Minister James Moore scolded them last Friday for pre-judging the outcome.

“I think it’s highly inappropriate for any politician to start pointing fingers and trying to score political points and making jabs at other levels of government without knowing all the facts,” Moore said.

Coast Guard officials have denied suggestions the response was hindered by the 2013 closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard, which they say was a search and rescue station without sufficient boom material available.

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau blamed the Conservative government cuts for delays and vowed to reopen the Kitsilano station if he wins the upcoming federal election.

A valve is believed to have malfunctioned in the MV Marathassa, causing bunker C oil to escape last Wednesday. Photo: Richard Lam / City of Vancouver

**********

VIDEO: Chrisy Clark slams responders for Vancouver oil spill

VIDEO: Minister James Moore hits back at Christy Clark, Gregor Robertson

Just Posted

Province funds $88.6M for two new schools in Langford by 2022

Langford gets 500-seat elementary school and a 700-seat middle school

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Premier opens playground

New Playground at École Poirier. John Horgan joined School Division 62 officials… Continue reading

Fish closure in Port Renfrew has endangered more than 40 per cent of businesses

YouTube video challenges residents to remember when election comes around

Council pursues water line extension for north Sooke

Properties affected by Highway 14 project may see water service

Oak Bay mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Jury to make recommendations based on death of Elliot Eurchuk, 16

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

EDITORIAL: Sooke council’s pot approach an opportunity lost

When the federal government tabled Bill 36 in September 2018, it threw… Continue reading

Green New Deal meeting in Sooke part of a larger movement

Humanity has 4,000 days left before it will be too late

Most Read