Monday, April 13, 2015

The First Casualty Of A Botched Oil Spill Response Is The Truth


Don't know about you, but when I heard Assistant Coast Guard Commissioner Robert Giroaurd say the following Sunday morning I knew something was up:

..."We thought we had a sophisticated (communications) system in place. Something went awry," he said. "We will fix it."...

Specifically, I figured that the 'communications' issue would be their limited hangout in front of a PR offensive that began with the 'detailed' timeline that showed that the contracted spill response company was on site 'just' four hours and fifteen minutes after the Coast Guard first received the call that oil was in the water (call came in at 5:10pm, contractor arrived at 9:25pm).


By Sunday afternoon Pravda on the Rideau had cranked its wurlitzer to warp speed.

Suddenly all we heard about was the fantastic spill response...That fewer waterfowl had been affected than first thought...That the contracting company was doing a bang up job...That the company workers were really working it and everything, with pictures from PravOnRid's unofficial official photographer and everything (Charlie Smith has that story)...And that the old Coast Guard base couldn't really have dealt with any of this anyway.

And then there was that business about how there was only a milk jug of oil left in the water, or some such thing, that the screamers and ethicalized lubricists like the good Mr. Levant started howling about.


All of this codswallop will probably move the center of the proMedia version of the story just far enough over to the 'look-how-everybody-over-reacted' side of the conventional wisdom ledger such that very fine less screamerish proMedia folks like the Keef can rub the citizenry's nose in it even further.

But none of that will change the fact that what did NOT happen was the arrival of a Coast Guard boat with spill response capabilities, within minutes (i.e. not 4 hours), to the scene.

Which, as we learned, Thursday is very likely what WOULD have happened if the Kitsilano Coast Guard station had not been dismantled by the federal government of Stephen Harper (and which the provincial government of Christy Clark barely lifted a finger to stop) in 2013.

” …(F)ormer Kits base commander Fred Moxey...told (CKNW) that a special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. According to Moxey, only a rubber boat from the Coast Guard responded to the English Bay oil spill last night. Moxey also told us the Osprey formerly stationed at Kits was dismantled and sold off then when the base was closed. Moxey says if Kits Base was still active today crews would have been on scene at the spill in six minutes with the equipment to deal with the situation...”


So, to sum up...

Yes, this was a small spill.

But let's step back a bit and ask the bigger question about the bigger truth.

Would anyone be happy with a 4 hour plus response if this had been a large spill?

And, just in case you were wondering...No, the Keef did not answer my question the direct question posed to him on the Twittmachine in response to his veiled attempt at hippie/environmentalist punching.



Anonymous said...

Maybe coast guard to PMO to lawyer to PMO to PAB to lawyers to PMO to PAB then news release?

Anonymous said...

Will Be Hard Pressed To Survive The Lies It Lives.?

Martyn said...

The amount spilled is almost irrelevant in this case. Wasn't a perfect response and we should demand improvement. Humans have an impact. In fact someone was doing the math, the sticks that hold up the docks contain bunker C and something like 20 of them = the amount spilled. Save the sky is falling for when it is or the right wing develop everything crowd will simply dismiss everything and anything we say... or is that happening already?

RossK said...


Are you suggesting that there would have been no difference in the delay in responding if the Kits base was still there?


Anonymous said...

No. 6 Fuel oil (Bunker C) Spills ... 6 fuel oil can vary from 0.95 to greater than 1.03. ... Small changes in water density may dictate whether the oil will sink or float.

Martyn said...


Kits base may have sped it up. Okay, Kits WOULD have sped it up. Not sure it changes the outcome though.

What I will guarantee is time from spill to Mayor and Ms Clarke speaking that the two of them talked and agree to run it up the pole to Harper. Both score points if the base reopens and it costs them nothing.

RossK said...

Thanks Anon--

That is interesting re: the density, because by the description of the guy who found it sounds like it was very close to sinking.



Thanks, and I see where you're coming from.

However, if that base were to reopen I would actually see that as a good thing, regardless the politics.