The U.S. Coast Guard has been ordered to investigate and report on the implications of large scale bitumen supertanker trafficking out of Vancouver.
A legislative amendment proposed by Washington state Sen. Maria
Cantwell and signed into law by President Barack Obama a couple of weeks
ago gives the U.S. marine safety agency six months to conduct a risk
assessment of the planned expansion of oil pipeline capacity to the West
While several proposed projects would see oil from the
Alberta oil sands brought to the B.C. coast for export primarily to
China, the legislation deals specifically with tanker traffic out of the
"According to reports, Canada is poised to
increase oil tanker traffic through the waters around the San Juan
Islands and the Juan de Fuca by up to 300 per cent," said a statement
issued by Cantwell's office.
"A supertanker oil spill near our
shores would threaten Washington state's thriving coastal economy and
thousands of jobs," the Democratic senator said in the statement. "This
bill will provide crucial information for Washington coastal communities
by requiring a detailed risk analysis...."
The Coast Guard will
study the risk of transporting oil via supertanker, tanker and barge
through the Salish Sea waterways, which encompasses U.S. and Canadian
territorial waters between southern Vancouver Island and the mainland.
It includes Juan de Fuca Strait, the Strait of Georgia, Haro and Rosario
Straits and Puget Sound.
No word yet on when or even if the U.S. Coast Guard will be looking into the Kitimat proposal which could pose a similar threat to Alaska.