Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner’s Pants are on Fire!

On Monday, Canadian Coast Guard Commissioner, Jodi Thomas, stated at an oil spill press conference in Vancouver that Kitsilano Coast Guard Station was mainly a search and rescue facility and would not have made any difference in the spill response. Of course Commissioner Thomas, who spearheaded the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station in 2013, knows full well this is not true, she is just in damage control mode and expects the dim witted ocean folk of Vancouver to be dazzled by the bright shiny brass buttons on her uniform and to swallow this obvious falsehood hook, line and sinker.

This Pollution Response Vessel CCE 735 formerly based at Kits CCG Station remained on a dock in Richmond until after Fred Moxey referred to it in the media last Friday. On the weekend it suddenly appeared beside the spill source ship and an image was featured in a Coast Guard Commissioner Tweet saying “We’re on it”

Many times over the years from the vantage point of the Jericho Sailing Centre, supported by overheard VHF radio communications, we witnessed the Kitsilano Coast Guard Station respond to the spills which inevitably happen in world class seaports. The truth is exactly as retired former Kits Station Commander Fred Moxey has stated; trained crews from Kitsilano would have taken six minutes to respond. The cutter Osprey was equipped with a skimmer and oil/pollution holding tank and would have been on scene to have timely, direct contact with the recreational boater who made the initial call. The station was equipped with 300 metres of self-inflating boom and a PRV (Pollution Response Vessel) which could have kept this spill from spreading and reaching Vancouver’s shoreline. Instead, according to the Coast Guard, although they were notified at 1710H on April 8, they did not “activate” the spill clean-up contractor until 2006H which then took until 0533H on April 9 to surround the spill source ship-not “world class” and not good enough to prevent significant environmental damage to our marine playground.

This spill was deja-vu all over again, reminiscent in volume and cause to a similar “accidental discharge” from an anchored ship about 10 years ago in English Bay which never had a chance to spread widely or reach Vancouver’s shoreline because of the rapid response of the Kitsilano Coast Coast Guard Station. These spills have happened in the past and they will continue to happen in the future -we need that quality of response returned to Vancouver immediately.

When Commissioner Thomas tells Vancouverites that crews have contained 80% of the spill (which they still don’t know the size of) with a world class response, take it with a grain of salt.