No, Double Hull Tankers Do Not Ensure ‘Total Safety’


While this is an old story from last June, it’s only now come to our attention, and needs being shared.

From our friends north of the border on the Tyee Opinion. The whitewash from the Canadian government  and the oil industry on tanker safety in the Straits.

While 65 oil tankers traversed Burrard Inlet last year,  it’s not clear how many single hull vessels currently traverse Burrard Inlet. Is BC providing escort tugs for all these tankers?

While tankers in the US need escort tugs, freighters have never needed them. And what’s missing in this analysis is that in 2012 escort tugs come off US  tankers (not freighters) in the US, as the Magnuson act only protected us from single hull tankers. The fact that an incident hasn’t yet happened is cold comfort given the disasters in Alaska in 79, the huge number of tanker and freighter sinkings since 79, and even San Francisco’s calamity just last winter. Canada’s lackluster investigation and lack of transparency on the sinking of a ferry a year or so ago shows that the government cannot be trusted.

The issue of Canada protection for the Straits is huge. Canada has never taken adequate protection of the Straits, relying on the US to protect the whole waterway. This whole ‘special meeting’ seems like a whitewash, as just last November the Canadian government and Coast Guard was caught unawares as a freighter that was anchored at Mayne Inlet in Plumper Sound drug anchor and narrowly avoided a disaster. Captain Brown’s statement in the following article  is total PR BS, frankly, and the kind of whitewash that we have seen over the years from countless other officials of industry and the government of many countries just prior to major spills.

Last winter, as I and a few other small news organizations watched the Plumper Sound event unfold, Canadian officials were in the dark, unaware, and had to be contacted by US officials who were alerted to the issue by citizens. There were 1.2 million gallons of fuel on this freighter!  It was over a day before the Canadians had a clue, and it was not reported on any major news outlet in Canada for at least 72 hours! So excuse me if I’m underwhelmed by the government official and B.C. Chamber Stewart pronouncements….If a major disaster occurs, it will affect us as well as Canada.

Let’s be clear, a major tanker or freighter spill in the Straits or the Straits of Georgia can undo hundreds of billions of dollars of environmental work, and decades of protection efforts on our marine habitat. We cannot let PR doublespeak like this go unchallenged. There is an agenda here of trying to expand the tanker traffic for the Alberta Tar Sands pipeline for sales to China. This is all about money, not environmental safety.

more on that old story here:
https://olyopen.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/update-on-canadian-tanker-grounding/

Here is the current crop of governmental bs as appropriately covered by the Tyee Opinion

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9/27 The Tyee Opinion
Contrary to industry reassurances, Vancouver faces increasing risks of oil spill.
By Mitch Anderson
Is it safe? That was the question posed last July when Mayor Gregor Robertson convened a special meeting of Vancouver city council to discuss increased oil tanker traffic through the treacherous waters of Burrard Inlet.
Vancouver has quietly become <http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/06/03/VancouverOilTankers>  a major oil port, as the capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby has recently been scaled up to 300,000 barrels per day. Every week several oil tankers squeeze through Second Narrows at the highest tides with less than two metres of water under the keel. These shipments have doubled over the last two years.
At the July meeting, Captain Stephen Brown of the B.C. Chamber of Shipping assured the city that these transits were happening in "total safety" and that "We have yet to have a pollution incident from a double hull tanker."
More at
http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2010/09/27/DoubleHullTankers/

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