Oil spill near Vancouver, B.C. proves risk of increase in Kinder Morgan tankers

February 2, 2018

An oil spill off the coast of Vancouver in Howe Sound is being decried by environmental groups as proof of the danger of increased tanker traffic that could result from the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Vancouver, B.C. — An oil spill off the coast of Vancouver in Howe Sound, which has dumped hundreds of litres of diesel into the local marine environment, is being decried by environmental groups today as proof of the danger of increased tanker traffic that could result from the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Howe Sound is the unceded territory of the Squamish Nation, who have never given consent for oil tankers to traverse their territory.

“When spills happen, they can devastate our coastline. Oil spills directly impact our economy, culture, and community who have lived off our homelands for thousands of years. The risk of spills is always present in our minds, and our communities feel the consequences,” said Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson Dustin Rivers.

Environmental organizations along the coast stand with the Squamish Nation and local communities, and are preparing to support in the aftermath of this oil spill to this territory, including sending personnel to document the spill with a drone and video cameras. 

This barge sinking, and the lack of information provided to the impacted communities, demonstrates that the West Coast is not prepared, and cannot afford the 700% tanker increase proposed by the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain expansion project.

“The oil spill in Howe Sound will have devastating impacts on the resident orca and salmon populations that our Indigenous cultures are dependent on,” said William George, member of Tsleil-Waututh Nation. “Just this month we saw orcas around the Sunshine Coast. The Kinder Morgan tanker increase puts Indigenous culture, ceremony and food at too great a risk.”

“Today’s spill is another heartbreaking reminder that it’s not a question of if spills will happen, it’s when, where, and how much,” said Jolan Bailey, a campaigner at Leadnow.

“As Justin Trudeau’s plane flies over Howe Sound on the eve of his town hall in Nanaimo tomorrow, we hope he glimpses the sheen of diesel on the waters below. Today’s oil spill foreshadows what’s to come if Kinder Morgan is allowed to bring 400 tankers to the coast each year. The accident is a stark and gut-wrenching reminder of why we need more protection for critical species such as salmon and herring and more scientific study of spill response readiness on the coast,” said Jessica Wilson, Head of the Oil Campaign at Greenpeace Canada.

“This is another reminder of what is at stake if we allow Canada’s west coast to be turned into a super highway for crude oil exports,” said Sven Biggs, campaigner for Stand.earth. “Howe Sound is a natural wonder. Places like this need protection but instead Justin Trudeau is threatening them with disaster.”      

Media contacts:
Squamish Nation councillor and spokesperson Dustin Rivers, 604-318-0458
Jesse Firempong, Greenpeace Canada, 778-996-6549
Sven Biggs, Stand.earth, 778-882-8354
Jolan Bailey, Leadnow, 604-441-6916