Even as Conservative MPs vote down a motion to re-open Kits Coast Guard base the General Manager of the Jericho Sailing Centre is hoping BC’s senior Tory cabinet minister will reconsider.
Mike Cotter says James Moore and other BC Tory MPs are being fed misinformation from Coast Guard brass who say Kits Base wouldn’t have been a factor in the English Bay fuel spill response.
“I know it to be absolutely false. I witnessed them responding to spills. I was familiarized with the environmental emergency response equipment they had. I was onboard there vessel. They had a dedicated pollution response vessel.”
Cotter says the logs and records from Kits Base should be made public.
“They will clearly show that, that vessel was based there. They will clearly show the crews had training. The ships logs will also show they responded to spills.”
Cotter says The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Coast Guard Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner are lying when they say Kits Base had no pollution response equipment and would not have been a factor in the fuel spill response.
“It is clearly false information that the government is being fed by the Coast Guard commissioner and assistant commissioner. It should be easily proven. It is very disappointing to see that James Moore and the BC Conservative caucus have turned their backs on us.”
Cotter adds the spill would have been a different story with Kits Base.
“There is no reason this spill should have ever touched our shoreline. … Kits station would have responded immediately. They would have had a boat on scene directly communicating with that boater who said he waited around for three hours. He said they could easily tell the spill was emanating from the aft section of the ship. This thing should have been nipped in the bud.”
Cotter has written BC’s MP Minister James Moore asking him to advocate for Kits Base to be re-opened.
Below is a picture of the pollution response boat that was stationed at Kits base and the letter Cotter wrote to James Moore in full.
Dear Mr. Moore:
Since the April 8 bunker C fuel spill in English Bay, 3km directly north of the Jericho Sailing Centre, I have heard various reports from Canadian Coast Guard officials stating that the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station was not equipped with pollution response equipment. I know this not to be true, having been familiarized with the Station, and having witnessed their environmental response to several incidents over the 25 years I managed the Jericho Sailing Centre while the Kits Station was open(1988-2013).
I enclose 2 photos of the PRV (Pollution Response Vessel CGE-735) taken in May, 2012 at the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station when I had the opportunity to go on board. This vessel, which has been on station at the source ship in English Bay since April 11, (3 days after the spill) is equipped with 2 skimmers, dual pollution containment tanks and 300m of floating containment boom. Further to this, the Station’s all-weather cutter Osprey was equipped with a skimmer, spill boom and a containment tank.
Had the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station remained open, the Osprey could have been on scene within 10 minutes in direct contact with the boater who originally reported the spill just after 5 pm on April 8. Her crew would’ve assessed the scene (the boater says he could tell the fuel was coming from the aft section of the source ship) and activated the PRV crew who would’ve been on scene and commenced spill containment within an hour of the report. The Osprey and her crew, adept at containing smaller spills, could have commenced clean-up operations immediately. The suggestion by Canadian Coast Guard management that the response of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station would not have made a difference from the containment 12 hours later, after 2 tidal flow changes, is beyond believable and simply not credible.
An examination of Kitsilano Coast Guard Station and ship logs will clearly reveal that the station responded to many spills over the years, as former Commander Fred Moxey has stated; and that, indeed, the CGE-735 Pollution Response Vessel, seen in these photos, was based at the station.
On behalf of Vancouver’s ocean community I would like to join others in respectfully asking the Canadian government to re-open the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station immediately.
Mike Cotter, General Manager
Jericho Sailing Centre Association