Preventing the next Exxon Valdez

  • Oct. 29, 2007 9:00 a.m.

Submitted by Margot McMillan, Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental LawOil spills from tankers are a question of when, not if-this is the unanimous conclusion from several government studies over the last thirty years and was the impetus for implementing BC’s north coast oil tanker moratorium back in 1972. The tragic sinking of the Queen of the North near Hartley Bay and the oil spill in Squamish last year, followed by the spill in the Robson Bight Ecological Park this summer are just a few of the many reminders that accidents do happen-and that protection, like the moratorium, is vital. British Columbians overwhelmingly support the moratorium-over 75% want it to stay in place, yet our federal and provincial governments continue to consider projects that threaten it. Currently, there are several proposals under consideration to build massive pipelines from the Alberta tar sands across northern BC to Kitimat that would necessarily depend on tanker traffic to bring tar sands oil to overseas markets. If even a few of these projects go ahead, about 300 tankers a year laden with crude oil, condensate, and liquefied natural gas would pass through BC’s treacherous Inside Passage. At this rate, studies have shown that British Columbians can expect a catastrophic oil spill, like that of the Exxon Valdez or larger, about once every nine and a half years. West Coast Environmental Law and speakers from Nuiqsut on Alaska’s north slope are providing free presentations on the moratorium and first-hand experiences with oil and gas industrialization to north coast communities this fall, from Oct 31 to Nov 4 Skidegate, Queen Charlotte and Masset Call 1-800-330-9235 or 604-220-2520 for more info or to set up a meeting.

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