Robson Bight update: Good News

Planet EarthApril 19, 2008

Robson Bight update:
Good news!

Hello everyone,

We have good news. Yesterday, British Columbia’s Environment Minister Barry Penner announced that Canada’s federal government will cooperate with the province in removing the diesel fuel tanker now lying underwater in the Ecological Reserve at Robson Bight. Though no definite timing was stated, subsequent comments by Minister Penner clearly indicated that officials are aware that the northern resident orcas are expected to return by early summer.

The decision represents real progress on an issue that should have impelled immediate action of the part of governments. The aftermath of the August 20th accident saw a smoke & mirrors dance (“no problem”) that delayed inspection of the wreckage, and then, once the dire situation had been dramatically revealed in underwater imagery, we were treated with stalling instead of planning. It took considerable effort from the public side to convince our governments to do an underwater inspection of the wreckage in the first instance, and then even more effort to convince them to do what was obvious from the outset. Now, finally, we have a decision, but is it in time?

We are left feeling very encouraged, but still worried. If the tanker with its toxic cargo can be removed before the orcas return, great, but if it cannot, we will find ourselves once again waiting. What happens now will depend on the ability of government officials to move swiftly through the process of awarding a contract and having the job done. If a call for bids happens this coming week, with a very short window for submissions, and very soon thereafter the contract is awarded, there is time, barely.

As we hold our collective breath, we want to acknowledge the participants in this drama who have brought us to this hopeful point. Living Oceans Society has been instrumental from the outset; BC’s Environment Minister Barry Penner has been a true listener and advocate; North Island MLA Claire Trevena has worked quietly behind the scenes in Victoria; North Island MP Catherine Bell has been vocal in Canada’s Parliament; and our local leaders: Namgis First Nation Chief Bill Cranmer, Alert Bay Mayor John Rowell, Port McNeill Mayor Gerry Furney, and the board of our Regional District have actively sought a decision. To all of them we are very grateful; and behind & in front of all of them stand all those who have pressed the issue, insisting that those who have the responsibility, act responsibly.

At this point, we have a simple and pleasant request for you to act on. Please write again to the Ministers involved, thanking them for their decision. At the same time, please request that they do what is needed before the orcas return, i.e. before mid June, 2008. Thank you.

Here is a link to yesterday’s announcement: ... 000569.htm

Here is a link to one of the stories that appeared after yesterday’s announcement: ... f9&k=54719

And here are contact details for Ministers Penner and Hearn:

The Honourable Barry Penner

Minister of the Environment

P.O. Box 9047, Stn. Prov. Gov't.

Victoria, B.C.

V8W 9E2 Canada

phone: 1-250-387-1187

fax: 1-250-387-1356


The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

200 Kent St. Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0E6 Canada

phone: 1-613-992-3474

fax: 1-613- 995-7858


As ever, this comes with our best wishes to you all,

Paul & Helena

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