David Suzuki Foundation oil spill scenarios for B.C coast show importance of quick response

The David Suzuki Foundation is calling the slow and confusing response to an oil spill in English Bay in Vancouver nowhere near the “world class” response promised to Canadians by the federal government. The foundation says its spill scenario research shows just how complex spill recovery can be, and that only a fraction of the oil is ever recovered.

“Our scenarios show that oil spills on the B.C. coast can be very difficult to deal with, and even with the best response only 15 per cent of the spill would likely be recovered,” said Jay Ritchlin, David Suzuki Foundation Director General, B.C. and Western Region. “In the past 24 hours the response from the Coast Guard, Port Metro Vancouver and other agencies hasn’t demonstrated that we have the world class oil spill response promised by the federal government.”

Since the release of the foundation’s oil spill research, B.C. has seen the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard base, leaving the closest Coast Guard ship 30 minutes away in Richmond. The federal government has also closed three Canadian Coast Guard communications centres on the West Coast.

“With plans for increased tanker traffic down our coast, the possibility of an oil spill occurring is very high. We are concerned about the lasting impacts on our precious coastal ecosystems and wildlife. English Bay is designated as one of Canada’s Important Bird Areas and we’re concerned about the impacts of the spill,” Ritchlin said.