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Media Statement – Andrew Weaver calls for moratorium on dilbit tanker traffic from Burnaby port

Media Statement—September 19, 2013

For immediate release

Vancouver, BC: Andrew Weaver calls for moratorium on dilbit tanker traffic from Burnaby port.

The British Columbia government has rejected the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline due in part to inadequate preparedness for potential marine and land heavy oil spills, while ignoring the fact that the heavy oil, diluted bitumen (dilbit), is shipped weekly from Burnaby, posing serious risks to BC’s coast.

“I am calling on Premier Clark and the BC government to be consistent in their approach to standing up for BC by placing a moratorium on all dilbit tanker traffic on our coast, including existing and proposed traffic from the Trans Mountain facility in Burnaby.”

The government has made it clear that any heavy oil pipelines and tanker traffic along the BC coast must meet 5 basic criteria, including world-leading marine and land oil spill response and recovery systems.

Meanwhile, documents from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans identified that: “Behaviour models specific to dilbit spills do not exist, and existing commercial models for conventional oil do not allow parameter specific modifications.” In short, should a spill occur, the research, data and evaluation of the effects of dilbit on land, fresh water and marine environments are simply not available, neither are the procedures, protocols, equipment and expertise that will be required to respond. A dilbit spill in Vancouver harbour would have profound and long-lasting consequences.

In its thorough submission to the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel the British Columbia Government stated: “the Province is not able to support approval of the project, and submits that its concerns respecting NG’s ability to respond to a spill should be given serious consideration by the JRP”.

However, while the government has made a strong case against dilbit exports from the Northern Gateway pipeline, it has failed to address the very real threat that existing dilbit tanker traffic from the Trans Mountain facility in Burnaby already poses to the BC coast. Currently 5 tankers pass through the harbour each month carrying dilbit, a number that could increase dramatically to 34 with the proposed twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline. If the proposal is successful, the Trans Mountain pipeline will transport 890,000 barrels a day, making it nearly double the capacity of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, which would transport 525,000 barrels a day.

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