Public health expert and award winning environmentalist occupy famous barge in Vancouver to call attention to risk of oil spill from Trans Mountain oil tankers 

April 8, 2022

Unceded Coast Salish Territories (VANCOUVER, BC) — Early this morning, activists, including noted environmentalist Tzeporah Berman and public health expert Dr. Tim Takaro, climbed the False Creek Barge to hang banners from the barge with messages like “What if this was an oil spill?”  If the Trans Mountain Expansion is completed it will result in a seven fold increase in oil tanker traffic in Vancouver Harbour, which significantly increases the risk of an oil spill.

Images and video available here for media use.

On the heels of the IPCC’s latest report where the UN Secretary General called any investment in new fossil fuels infrastructure “moral and economic madness,” if Canada moves forward with projects like Trans Mountain, or the recently approved Bay du Nord project, the country is well on a path of further entrenching its dependence on fossil fuels while accelerating the climate crisis.

“On the heels of the latest IPCC report and the devastating federal approval of Bay du Nord, the barge is yet another clear example of government lies,” said Tzeporah Berman, International Programs Director, from on top of the barge. “The federal government and the oil industry want us to believe that a dramatic increase in oil tankers right through Vancouver’s harbour is safe, yet they couldn’t even stop this barge from crashing and they haven’t even  figured out how to remove it?  What if this had been an oil spill?  It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.” 

A study conducted for Metro Vancouver found that a spill of tar sands crude in Vancouver Harbour could have serious local health impacts due to exposure to toxic gases or fire from the extremely dangerous form of oil being transported by the Trans Mountain Expansion. Despite concerns raised by local government, residents groups, and public health experts, a full public health review of the impacts of the project is yet to be conducted. 

“A spill of diluted bitumen in Burrard Inlet could be catastrophic for public health and everyone who depends upon these waters for work and pleasure, food and culture,” said Dr. Tim Takaro. “A major spill would require the evacuation of between 24,000-105,000 people and increase  cancer risk in those exposed.”  

The recent announcement by the federal government that they will not invest more public funds in the project, is a serious setback for the pipeline. The project is currently less than halfway built, years behind schedule, and now needs to find at least $8 billion in funding from private investors to cover growing construction costs that now top $21 billion.

Analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Office and Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) called into question whether the pipeline is viable at this construction price and predicted that taxpayers will have to continue to pour money into the project if it is to be completed. is calling on the federal government to cancel this project in order to truly get taxpayers off the hook for future losses.



Tzeporah Berman is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at York University, chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, and the international program director at Stand.Earth.

Tim Takaro is professor emeritus for environmental and occupational health sciences at Simon Fraser University and researches health impacts of climate change.. He is also a medical doctor.

Backgrounder available here: Risk on a Trans Mountain Oil Spill

Images and video available here for media use.

Media Contact:

Ziona Eyob, Media Director – Canada, +1 604 757 7279,