Justin Trudeau announces $1.5B West Coast spill response plan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the government’s $1.5-billion ocean protection plan in Vancouver today for responses to tanker and fuel spills in the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

“The ongoing incident at Bella Bella is unacceptable,” said Trudeau, referring to the spill of 100,000 litres of fuel after a tug ran aground last month. “It’s time for a change.”

Trudeau said the plan provides $1.5 billion in funding over five years, starting in 2017-18, including increased coast guard capacity, new rescue stations, tougher rules for businesses that pollute on the coast, and Indigenous community response teams.

New oil spill response methods will also be funded, he said.

He called it “the most significant investment ever made to protect our oceans and coastlines.”

Trudeau first took a tour of Vancouver harbour aboard a coast guard vessel before heading to Stanley Park, where he is making the announcement with Transport Minister Marc Garneau.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tours Vancouver harbour aboard a coast guard vessel in advance of the announcement. (CBC)

Garneau spent Sunday touring a site on the province’s Central Coast where a tug boat ran aground and sank more than three weeks ago, releasing thousands of litres of diesel and lubricants into the water.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark has called the current spill response on the West Coast “totally inadequate” for existing marine traffic, let alone any increases from potential pipeline expansion.

The B.C. government has already laid out a long list of requirements, including a coast guard base in Prince Rupert, monitoring systems to manage vessel traffic, and three new salvage ships that could arrive at a spill site within three hours.

Bella bella tug

Spill response efforts have failed to contain an estimated 110,000 litres of diesel and other petroleum products from the tugboat, Nathan E. Stewart, that ran aground Oct. 13 in the Seaforth Channel near Bella Bella. (Ian McAllister)

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