The Coast Guard’s review into its response to the English Bay fuel spill is missing a key ingredient.
The man who first spotted the slick from the grain vessel in April says he has not been asked to share his information.
Rob O’Dea says he and a friend, who were out sailing that night, says it took crews three hours to show up after he called 911.
“We had naively thought they would show up after we provided a credible report describing a half-a-kilometre-long-by-250-metre-wide slick. That is not a small spill.”
O’Dea says the Coast Guard has not contacted him to testify at the review, but he certainly would if he was asked.
“No I haven’t been contacted by the Coast Guard since the incident happened. Well at all I guess I haven’t been contacted at all.”
O’Dea and a friend waited for almost three hours without seeing a single Coast Guard vessel respond to take advantage of the daylight.
“Oh it was absolutely clear where it was coming from. With the way the wind and the currents were everything was emanating from the stern of the Marathassa. It absolutely, clearly, was coming directly from there. I can’t imagine any situation other than showing up in the dark that they wouldn’t have been able to ascertain where the oil was coming from.”
O’Dea says he can provide a clear account of a complete lack of response for about three hours after he reported the spill.
“I called at 5:05 they still had an easy two and a half if not close to three hours that they could have had a boat, or a plane, well if there had been somebody at the old Coast Guard station they would have been able to look out the window with a set of binoculars and they would have seen the scope of the spill and where it was coming from.”
The Coast Guard has been criticized for arriving late to the spill, not installing booms around the vessel, the Marathassa, soon enough, and not informing the City of Vancouver of the spill until early the next morning.
The department has defended itself, saying its response was world-class. The review is set to be completed in July.
You can listen here to Shane Woodford’s interview with Rob O’Dea below: