As oil spills go, Harper's "world class" oil spill response team couldn't have asked for better conditions than they faced last Wednesday in Vancouver's English Bay.
There was nothing to obstruct crews getting at the spill and deploying their booms and equipment. The waters were calm. It was day time. It happened not all that far away from the Sea Island Coast Guard station. The best part is that it was a small spill, what should have been a piece of cake for our world class guardians.
And still they screwed it up.
It could have been so much worse. Imagine a heavily loaded tanker floundering on the rocks overnight in the midst of the sort of West Coast winter storms that fell giant trees in coastal forests. Imagine that heavily loaded tanker breaking up in the Douglas Channel or Hecate Strait. That is to imagine catastrophe of an incalculable scale on a multi-generational time span.
Do you realize that those world class oil spill recovery vessels can't leave the pier in our winter storms and their booms are useless in those conditions?
That oil spill in English Bay should have been like a kindergarten field day. Everybody should have come away with a shiny blue ribbon. Only they screwed it all up.
Environment Minister Mary Polak told the B.C. legislature on Monday that in the event of a marine spill “we are led in a unified command structure by the federal government through the Canadian Coast Guard.”
However, the minister said the province and other emergency response agencies were forced to act outside their usual roles due to the Coast Guard’s inaction.
“As a result of our repeated requests for an improvement in that situation, I can tell the members that the Coast Guard certainly stepped up their involvement, took back over the leadership of incident command as of Friday morning,” Ms. Polak said.