Experts Call Toxic Spill in Vancouver a 'Warning' Against Fossil Fuel Projects

October 10, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

In the wake of a toxic fuel spill in Vancouver’s English Bay this week, criticism of the emergency response and questions over the potential impacts of a proposed tar sands pipeline expansion through the area came from climate and shipping experts alike.

Jessica Wilson, head of Greenpeace Canada’s Arctic campaign, said on Thursday that the spill should serve as a warning against fossil fuel development in the area.

“Any oil spill is a disaster for marine life and for all those who depend on a healthy ecosystem,” Wilson said. “While we don’t know how big this toxic spill is and the damage is still being tallied, we do know it pales in comparison with what could happen if new tar sands pipelines were built to the [British Columbia] coast or if Shell’s Arctic drilling plans were to proceed.”

Meanwhile, CBC News spoke with international shipping expert Joe Spears, who slammed the emergency response to the spill and said the disaster shows British Columbia’s waters are not ready for increased oil tanker traffic.

Energy company Kinder Morgan has proposed building a second TransMountain pipeline to carry oil to the English Bay’s Burrard inlet, where the spill began, which critics say would increase tanker traffic through B.C. waters.

“We’ve got to do better,” Spears told CBC News. “This is a glimpse of the future. If we can’t handle a small bunkering spill, how are we going to deal with a major tanker?”

More than two tons of fuel oil seeped into the English Bay on Wednesday, rendering Vancouver’s beaches toxic no-go zones as a muddled cleanup effort slowly got underway. In subsequent days, several sea birds were also recovered from the area, covered in oil and unlikely to survive, according to the Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Pollution Research Program director Dr. Peter Ross.