British Columbia

Oil spill response by coast guard blasted by Vancouver mayor, B.C. premier

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has blasted the federal government response to Wednesday's oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay, saying it may be time to hand over responsibility to the province.

Premier Christy Clark says 'somebody needs to do a better job of protecting the coast'

Mayor upset over oil spill reaction

7 years ago
Duration 3:54
Clean-up efforts totally inadequate, Gregor Robertson says

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has blasted the federal government's response to Wednesday's oil spill in Vancouver's English Bay, saying it may be time to hand over responsibility to the province.

Speaking from her office in Vancouver, Clark said the six-hour delay in placing booms around the leaking tanker and the 12-hour delay notifying the city showed a shortage of "good judgment" and "nimbleness."

Clark said she felt it may be time for the Canadian Coast Guard to hand over the responsibility for leading the organization of oil-spill cleanups to the provincial government. 

"Somebody needs to do a better job of protecting the coast, and the coast guard has not done it," said Clark. 

"If that means that in the future the coast guard is relieved of their lead in this and starts taking direction from the province, then perhaps that's a better way to do, because we have a lot of experience, as you know, in working in a unified way."

Both the federal and provincial efforts were also criticized earlier Friday by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who called the efforts "totally inadequate."

'Somebody needs to do a better job of protecting the coast, and the coast guard has not done it,' says B.C. Premier Christy Clark. (CBC)

Robertson blamed the federal and provincial governments for a lack of leadership in responding to the spill — now identified as toxic bunker fuel — saying he had several significant questions about the level of co-ordination.

"The citizens of Vancouver are very frustrated. We don't know what the total impact will be on our environment. We don't know how much of that toxic substance sunk to the bottom and will be a long-term hazard in our waters," said Robertson. 

Coast guard defends actions

Earlier Friday morning, Roger Girouard, the Canadian Coast Guard assistant commissioner overseeing the response to the spill — defended the agency's response.

Girouard said initial reports about the fuel leak were vague and there had to be an assessment before the booms were deployed.

"Was there a period of time when we weren't quite sure what we were dealing with? Absolutely. That's not atypical in this type of a scenario," he said.

"We're confident that we have our arms around any new spillage or leakage and will keep watching on that through the course of today."

Girouard said owners of the Marathassa will be on the hook for the costs related to the spill, and a team will soon be working on the legal claims process.

Cleanup moves to shoreline

Meanwhile coast guard officials said efforts to clean up the spill will shift to the shorelines following reports that part of the slick had washed up on beaches in West Vancouver. 

Transport Canada said an aerial survey on Friday morning determined that almost all of the oil in the water had been cleaned up by skimmers on Thursday, and only a few small patches remained. 

Transport Canada has confirmed the estimated 2,700 litres of oil was bunker fuel from the vessel MV Marathassa, as had been suspected.

The official cause of the leak has not been released, but officials believe it was due to an unintentional malfunction on board the vessel, which was on its maiden voyage after being launched from a Japanese shipyard in February. 


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