Emergency pipeline policy reviewed in lieu of English Bay fuel spill
By Mercedes Deutscher, Staff Reporter
In early April, the grain ship MV Marathassa spilled at least 2,800 litres of fuel into English Bay. While considered a fairly small spill, it took six hours to identify the spill and 12 hours to notify the City of Vancouver.
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson tells CBC that Vancouverites are appalled at how the spill was handled. “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 longterm hazard in our waters.”
Some residents are demanding a response and action from the federal government, who closed down a Kitsilano Coast Guard base in 2013. Many predicted that if the base would have remained open, responders could have been on the scene of the spill immediately.
In the aftermath of the fuel spill, the National Energy Board (NEB) has decided to review what course of action would take place in the event of an oil spill from the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
“Their company has a good plan in place, and we’re pretty confident about the plan, but we just don’t want to be complacent,” says Peter Watson, the CEO of the NEB, in a Vancouver Sun interview.
The review is expected to take a year to conduct, during which time the NEB will review Kinder Morgan’s policies, practices, transparency of employees, and safety.
On a previous ruling made by the NEB, they gave Kinder Morgan permission to allow some of their emergency plan to remain secret. In this case, the findings of the audit will be made available to the public, a move that will attempt to further integrate the NEB into the public sphere. The NEB is also trying to further involve municipalities by increasing education about the pipelines.
It is a move that has garnered criticism from Premier Christy Clark, who has expressed discomfort with how much information is being released. Watson says that he understands Clark’s concerns, but asserts that it is necessary to obtain this information so that BC residents are more informed about the safety plan, and they can evaluate what is and is not necessary in such a plan.
“I know full well the public has to have confidence that there is a good emergency response framework in place and we want them to get the information they need,” assured Watson.