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Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director, ForestEthics Advocacy, 604-710-5340
More Oil Spill Risk and Less Coastguard Means Moving From ‘Dumb to Dumber’
VANCOUVER - February 20 - Yesterday, the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was abruptly shut down. Vancouver residents have repeatedly voiced their concerns about this proposal since it was first announced by the Harper Government, but no date for the closure had been announced.
“With Kinder Morgan’s proposal to massively expand exports of diluted bitumen through Vancouver’s already bustling harbour, this is an irresponsible move,” said Ben West, Tar Sands Campaign Director with ForestEthics Advocacy. “It was already really dumb for Prime Minister Harper to consider turning Vancouver’s harbour into an export terminal for dangerous tar sands oil, but to simultaneously close Vancouver’s Coast Guard station is a move from dumb to dumber.”
The Vancouver Coast Guard was called on over 300 times a year to respond to emergencies and has saved hundreds of lives. Kinder Morgan’s proposal would increase traffic from the current 80 tankers a year to over 400 tankers should it be approved. Each one of these tankers would carry three times as much oil as was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
“When it comes to oil exports, more oil means more risk. It’s not a matter of if there will be an accident, it’s a matter of when and how prepared we will be to protect human health and our precious coast,” said West.
The Vancouver Harbour is currently the only location that tar sands oil is being exported via oil tankers. This practice has already increased from approximately 20 tankers a year to the current level of approximately 80 tankers a year in the time since Kinder Morgan bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2005. Before Kinder Morgan bought the pipeline it was primarily used for local oil consumption.
“Accidents happen all the time, that’s why we have a coast guard. The closure of Vancouver’s coast guard station means we will be even less prepared to respond. The station should be reopened immediately and the proposal to bring more tar sands oil spill risk to Vancouver’s harbour should never be allowed to see the light of day,” said West. “Lives are at stake here, we need to be smarter and safer, not dumb and dumber.”