The daughter of a former ship’s Captain at the now closed Kitsilano Coast Guard base has asked the Auditor General of Canada to look into claims made about the base during the English Bay fuel spill.
Fisheries and Oceans minister Gail Shea must answer a list of questions from Sara Kalis Gilbert in an environmental petition initiated by the Auditor General.
Gilbert says despite claims to the contrary Kits base had spill clean up equipment, trained staff, and would have responded to the English Bay fuel spill much faster.
“Slowly they backed down on some of the original statements made but it concerned me that this information went out there to the MPs and they are making decisions on false, or inaccurate, information. The only way I felt to get an impartial review of the situation I felt was to go through the Auditor General’s office.”
The minister has 120 days to provide answers.
During the English Bay fuel spill Assistant Coast Guard commissioner Roger Girouard said Kits base had no spill response equipment, no staff trained in dealing with spills, and would not have made one iota of difference in responding the Vancouver fuel spill.
Those were claims echoed by Conservative MPs in the days after.
Gilbert found those claims disturbing.
“For some reason they were misinformed. What disturbed me most of all was that when they were provided with fact, with documentation, with photographs they still maintained that it wasn’t true. These are people, these are experts, Tony Toxopeus and Fred Moxey they worked there they knew. I just can’t understand that.”
After CKNW did stories with pictures of a special spill response boat, and boxes of oil booms sitting on the dock, along with former base staff insisting the base had the equipment and the staff trained to respond to spills the lines from Coast Guard brass and Conservative MPs changed.
They then admitted while the base did have spill response equipment but it was not sufficient to deal with the MV Marathassa leak.
Former base staff say those claims are also untrue.
Gilbert also wants to know from Fisheries minister Gail Shea if it is proper former Coast Guard commissioner John Butler has been appointed to review the spill response.
“He was involved in the consolidation and closures on the East coast in, I believe, 2012 and when this was put to Commissioner Jody Thomas she said it is no longer an issue because he is retired and he has no involvement with the Coast Guard but being as he was a former commissioner at that time I see it as an issue.”
Gilbert also wants the Auditor General to do an full independent review of the Kits Base base closure.
The review of the spill response by retired Coast Guard Commissioner John Butler is due by the end of July.
Below is the list of questions Sara Kalis Gilbert sent the Auditor General’s office.
- the accuracy of statement regarding the fact that the Kits Base closure would not have made “one iota” of a difference in the detection of the Marathassa spill,
- the accuracy of the statement that “there was no pollution control equipment at the Kits Base”
- the discrepancies between statements made by the Minister, Commissioner Thomas, and A/Commissioner Girouard as well as various MPs
- the accuracy of the statement by Commissioner Thomas that the Kits Base did not have trained personnel
- the appointment of former Commissioner John Butler to perform a review of the Marathassa oil spill and whether it is appropriate or not.
- Whether the MCTS closures and the Kits Base closure can be justified in relation to loss of life/environmental impact