In response to letters from constituents regarding the sunken tugboat, Elf, in addition of specific inquiries received from elected officials from the recent Howe Sound Forum meeting, I am writing to share the latest news.?
I have contacted officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to determine lines of responsibility and appropriate responses.?DFO informed me that the Canadian Coast Guard, a division of DFO, is responsible for ensuring clean-up of all ship-source and mystery spills into waters under Canadian jurisdiction.?Because of this, the Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Response Team is on the scene, supported by Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of the Environment.
The Coast Guard should be commended for its prompt response, having arrived on the scene the same day of the sinking and taking immediate action to contain the spill and prevent further pollution from entering the channel.?The RCMP is also conducting an investigation.
According to the Fisheries Act, there may be a point where the lead on responding switches from the Coast Guard to Environment Canada, based on an assessment of the potential harm from the spill.?Canadian law places the onus for the clean-up on the polluter. The Coast Guard’s role is to advise the polluter of their responsibilities. The Coast Guard also must approve the polluter’s plans for clean-up. Once satisfied, the Coast Guard assumes a monitoring role, providing advice and guidance on the clean-up. If the polluter is unknown, unwilling or unable to comply, the Coast Guard will assume the overall management of the clean-up operation. However, it should be known that this does not lessen the polluter’s responsibility and/or liability for the environmental impact.?
Like many of you, I will continue to monitor the situation in Squamish carefully, and will assist in any way I can.?
With best regards,
MP,?West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country