Nathan asks a question about an oil spill off the Northwest BC coast
May 3rd, 2012 - 3:27pm
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are harassing ecologists and slashing funding for oil spill protection and monitoring measures, but that does not solve the problem. Yet another oil spill has appeared on British Columbia's northern coast. At one kilometre long and 60 metres wide, this catastrophic spill is threatening the community of Hartley Bay. In 2003, the Conservatives were warned about the growing risk of oil spills. That oil spill appeared two days ago. Can the Conservatives tell us what they have done so far to clean up the mess?
Hon. Peter Kent (Minister of the Environment, CPC): I would be delighted to, Mr. Speaker. Environment Canada has been notified of the release of a small amount of oil from a Second World War warship sunk off the coast of British Columbia. The Canadian Coast Guard is the lead agency. Environment Canada's national ice service overflew the site to observe and to report on the release. It appears that this time the environmental impact will be minor as there appears to be less than one litre of
Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised the people of Hartley Bay two years ago to clean up this mess. They are not just failing to protect coastal communities, they are putting them at further risk, all the while cheerleading for raw export of pipelines and supertanker projects. The government recklessly closed B.C.'s only oil spill response centre. Now it is gutting environmental laws for pipeline and fast-tracking of new threats. Why is the government putting the health and life of coastal communities at risk all in favour of their friends in the oil patch?
Hon. Peter Kent (Minister of the Environment, CPC): Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague clearly misunderstands the operational realities of the environmental emergencies office. Environment Canada staff are not first responders. They very seldom attend the site of a pollutant release. They do support the lead agency, be it municipal, provincial, a federal department, be it Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or the National Energy Board. We will continue to do that. There will be no negative impact from the consolidation of our six offices to two.