Today, the provincial government introduced amendments to the Environmental Management Act intended to strengthen spill preparedness and response in BC.
In response, Christianne Wilhelmson, Executive Director of Georgia Strait Alliance, made the following statement:
Given the well-known spill response challenges we currently face in BC for all types of hazardous materials being shipped through our communities, this legislation is an encouraging step forward, but its effectiveness and credibility will depend on how it is implemented through specific regulations. We welcome moves to seek more input from communities and First Nations, and to create area-based response plans. However, the new framework doesn’t change the fact that there is no known effective technique for recovering spilled diluted bitumen, nor does it justify increasing our region’s risk for spills by approving new heavy oil pipelines.
The yet-to-be-determined regulations will define the specifics of the new framework, and Georgia Strait Alliance will be watching closely to see how key features measure up. These include response times, recovery standards, and the degree of public accountability in the industry-funded Preparedness and Response Organization.
Citizens deserve to have input on rules that are established to protect their communities and environment. Georgia Strait Alliance strongly encourages the Province to facilitate full, public consultation on these proposed regulations, and notes that failure to do so will undermine the ultimate credibility of the new rules, and will mean the Province isn’t meeting its commitment to a fair and transparent process.