“What I’d like to see is American Petroleum tankers out of the BC Inside Passage. They shouldn’t be here: they should go offshore where all the other tankers have to go. There’s no other big tankers allowed in the BC Inside Passage.

These tankers carry 10,000 dead weight tonnes of petroleum products. That is one quarter of the spill volume that was released by the Exxon Valdez into the Gulf of Alaska. That’s a very significant amount of petroleum product. They carry domestic fuels that are used by everybody —  just in their cars or in their heating — this is the type of product these vessels are carrying. They hold as much as 50,000 dead weight tonnes: annually up the coast there are probably between 30 and 50 trips a year up the BC Inside Passage.

So my solution is that these tankers get out of the BC Inside Passage.

That’s 30 times they risk our coast, or 50 times they are risking our coast! If they are afraid to travel offshore because their vessels are unseaworthy — and we’ve seen that we’ve seen one failure recently… the Jake Shearer, which broke apart in basically ordinary November conditions in Hecate Straight.

So you know, a prudent mariner goes out into Hecate Straight in November and expects 100 knot winds. It was blowing 50 the night that the Jake Shearer broke apart. It was a brand new, two-year-old ATB vessel. And then a year and a half ago we had the disaster —  a catastrophe! —  of the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart, just about five miles away from here in Seaforth channel.

These vessels are unseaworthy. They’re dangerous, they are risking our coast. I say they need to get themselves a proper seaworthy tanker like an Afro-max tanker and go out Juan de Fuca Straight, 20 or 30 miles off shore, then carry on outside of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii up to Alaska, and then unload their product from there.

Get out of the BC Inside Passage. They offer nothing to Canada. There’s not a single Canadian sailor on these vessels. There’s no Canadian pilots. There’s no stops in Canada. It’s a direct voyage all the way through, and they pay no fees. They offered nothing but imminent disaster to the British Columbia coast. And luckily, the Nathan E. Stewart, when it sank —  it’s barge was empty. It was on its way south. But the Jake Shearer, which came a stone’s throw from foundering on the Goose Islets (which is one of the most precious ecological areas of the BC central coast) was fully loaded with 10,000 dead weight tonnes of petroleum product.

One of the illusions that prevails in the rhetoric around the transport of petroleum products in British Columbia is that refined fuels are safe, or safer, to transport by sea. Well I mean, perhaps when you’re comparing to dirty oil bitumen, sure: however, a year and a half since the Nathan E. Stewart sank and spilled what they claim to be a hundred thousand liters of product into the sea, those areas are still off limits to fishing or shellfish harvesting or anything. People around here can’t go to where they’ve always gone for 12000 years to get their food. They can’t go there. It’s shut down by D.F.O., which suggests that area continues to be poisoned by that disaster.

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