Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Botched English Bay Oil Spill Response (ctd)...Is 'User-Pay' Another Way Of Saying 'Self-Regulating'?


David Ball has a good story up at the Tyee about the fine folks who are actually doing the cleaning up.

Here is his lede:

The private firm which spent an entire night attempting to contain a heavy oil spill in English Bay last week has defended the length of time it took to arrive at the accident -- about 80 minutes -- as "an incredible response time."

However, Michael Lowry, a spokesman for Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC), suggested the longer delay came after the Canadian Coast Guard alerted British Columbia's network of emergency management partners that a spill had occurred.

It took that group nearly three hours -- from 5:14 p.m. to 8:06 p.m. -- to notify WCMRC that a serious spill had occurred. WCMRC is the oil-industry owned consortium responsible for spill clean up on the West Coast.

Under B.C.'s emergency protocols, those partners are a network of agencies that include "local, shore-side authorities" such as municipal governments and First Nations as well as relevant government bodies, according to a Coast Guard news release...


Leaving aside Mr. Lowry's throwing of the Coast Guard under the bus and his claims (which come later in the piece) that this is not 'contracting out', let's have a specific look at what Mr. Ball wrote about the 'user pay' model aspect of this fine little privatization scheme:

..Lowry confirmed that the owners of the ship (leaking the oil) were paying members of the WCMRC -- meaning there would be an established process to ensure that the ship owner paid for the clean up. That's a requirement of visiting a Canadian port, Lowry said. A ship without such an arrangement must first sign an 11-page "third-party agreement" to get spill help. Luckily, last week that wasn't needed...

All good, I suppose, at least if you are a 'paid-up' member of the scheme.

But what if you are not?

Or, put another way, if the ship leaking all that bunker oil had not been part of the club/scheme would Mr. Lowry's folks have even responded at all while everybody waited for the ship's owners (who originally denied that the Marathassa was even leaking the oil) to find that 'third party' help as per their self-regulating 'agreement'.


If you close your eyes and shake your head a little bit you might almost think that we're discussing meat packing plants....

Or some such thing.


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