Calling efforts by Transport Canada to manage the spill in English Bay to this point “excellent” Coast Guard assistant commissioner, Roger Girouard briefed the media this morning.
“Transport Canada over flight indicated there was all of about six litres of material left in the harbour. Certainly more than 80 per cent of the spilled oil has been recovered and that quantification continues. On the shoreline every indication is that the soiling is in fact minor.”
Girouard says the small number of impacted birds – to his count, three by last night – is an indication as to how successful they were at getting the black oil out of the water as rapidly as possible.
“We expect to be at this beach review, beach cleanup piece, for a few days yet. This is a slow deliberate process simply because rushing in to it puts more impact on that shore and damages more planned in that deliberate planned effort.”
He insists that the resources are in place to get the job done and is politely declining volunteer assistance.
“We have everything we need at this moment in time to address both the wildlife and the beach cleanup. We certainly appreciate the concern and willingness of people in Vancouver to step up and volunteer. Frankly, we’ve checked with our coordination teams and we do not need volunteers to do beach cleanup at this time.”
Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner Jody Thomas later re-iterated the focus is on the shoreline and investigating the cause of the spill.
“There’s no real change in the situation. We continue to be satisfied and pleased in fact with how the cleanup is going… Focused on the shoreline, moving to the investigation of what’s going on with the vessel, working with partners to ensure all aspects of stakeholder engagement and response are being covered.”
In the meantime, Vancouver Aquarium’s Senior Marine Specialist Dr. Lance Barrett-Lennard says things could have been a lot worse.
“Environmentally we got lucky…it was a very small spill in the grand scheme of things… Most of those involved are looking at it as perhaps a wake up call.”
Barrett-Lennard says this spill can serve as a learning experience for the city.
“This isn’t a major catastrophe, the lesson to take home from this I think is what could happen if there was a larger spill.”
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) April 11, 2015
Talk is also escalating about the future of tankers in Vancouver.
The city plans to expand from 80 tankers a year in its waters to over 400.
And the Director of Tanker Free BC Ben West says changes need to be made before that expansion can happen.
“The response time has kind of been the key discussion. I’d like to see us say that we are not even going to consider any increase in the risk in our waters until we have atleast brought back the same about of safety as we had before.”
“If you compare our process to what’s going on in the United States where they won’t even allow pipelines to be considered unless it’s made clear that it won’t be worse for the climate. In our process here you can’t even bring up climate. I think in today’s day and age that just doesn’t make sense.”
West says this oil spill showed the need for a more organized response.