Canadian Coast Guard Defends Vancouver Spill Response As "Exceptional"

Tuesday April 14, 2015

The commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard has defended the agency's response to a bunker spill in Vancouver, saying it was "exceptional by international standards," Commissioner Jody Thomas said Sunday in a government release. 

Thomas added that the assessment was corroborated by an unnamed U.S. oil spill expert.

"All through the night, the Canadian Coast Guard and WCMRC (Western Canada Marine Response Corporation) worked to ensure a robust response, following long-standing protocols," she said.

"Even before most British Columbians woke up, the boom was completely surrounding the suspect vessel."

The agency came under fire from both Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and British Columbia premier Christy Clark, both of whom questioned the leadership ability of the federal response efforts

Thomas however, said that 80 percent of the spill had been recovered in the first 36 hours, and as of last Saturday afternoon, approximately 0.3 litres of non-recoverable oil was remaining on the water.

Thomas also responded to previous media reports which speculated that a closed Coast Guard base at Kitsilano would have had faster response times for oil spill recovery. 

"I would like to ... confirm that the Kitsilano station never provided these types of environmental response operations, and its presence would not have changed how we responded to this incident," she said. 

"As we would for every significant incident, and as previously committed, the Canadian Coast Guard and its partners will perform a complete analysis of the entire response to this incident, from the initial call, to the official end of the operation."

The cause of the spill was confirmed last week as the M/V Marathassa, which was on her maiden voyage collecting grain in Vancouver when it started leaking fuel.