Oil spill clean-up ship hit sandbar en route to government news conference in Vancouver
- View SourceOil spill clean-up ship hit sandbar en route to government news conference in Vancouver
BY MIKE HAGER, VANCOUVER SUNMARCH 20, 2013 10:01 PM
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaks Monday in Vancouver during an announcement about changes to improve oil tanker safety on the west coast.
Photograph by: DARRYL DYCK, THE CANADIAN PRESSBritish Columbia's largest oil spill response vessel got stuck on a sandbar en route to a federal news conference where Monday about strengthening Canada's oil spill defences.
The shipping-industry-funded company in charge of the vessel confirmed it ran aground briefly on an uncharted sandbar off Sand Heads at the mouth of the Fraser River en route from its Esquimalt base to the Coal Harbour news conference. But it denied the ship had a "close quarters situation" with a B.C. ferry near Active Pass earlier Monday - as claimed by the Coast Guard's marine communications union.
In a news release Wednesday, Canadian Auto Workers Local 2182 spokesman Allan Hughes said the vessel's slow trip to the conference underscored how ill-prepared B.C. is for an oil spill.
"It's astonishing to think that the safety and protection of Canada's busiest port is dependent on a quick response in the event of an oil spill and this is what we get - a response vessel grounding itself and taking 11 hours to arrive in Vancouver."
Hughes said Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced nothing new Monday to add to the Port of Vancouver's protection "and didn't bother telling media about the (vessel's) incident or just how far away major oil spill response ships are from Vancouver."
The ship was not damaged in the incident and drifted off the sandbar within minutes after shutting off its engines, its operator Western Canada Response Corporation said.
The incident was reported to Transport Canada and did not affect the ship's travel time to the conference, the company added. It said the ship and crew attended the news conference to take media questions about oil spill cleanup operations.
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