We need strong measures to protect BC's coast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MARCH 24, 2010

OTTAWA MUST ACT NOW TO STOP ANOTHER VALDEZ 21 years since Valdez spill Harper is moving to have Tankers off BC

OTTAWA – On March 24, 1989 at 12:04 am the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef causing one of the most devastating environmental disasters in North American history. Now, 21 years later, the Conservative government is pushing to start having oil tankers off the sensitive coast of British Columbia.

That is why today on the anniversary of the accident, Fin Donnelly, New Democrat Fisheries and Oceans Critic and MP for New Westminster-Coquitlam and Port Moody, commemorated this tragic event by announcing the introduction of a bill seeking to outlaw all oil tankers in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound.

“My bill would make the moratorium on oil tanker traffic in this region legally binding,” said Donnelly. “The moratorium on oil tanker traffic has been in place for over 35 years – it was necessary to protect our coastline then – it’s still necessary now”.

Yesterday, First Nations groups and community activists from all over British Columbia came together to denounce the proposed Enbridge Pipeline which would bring 225 oil tankers a year through the Hecate Strait and the Queen Charlotte Sound to move oil to markets in Asia and the US.

“People from across northern British Columbia are uniting against this pipeline and the oil tanker traffic it will create,” said Nathan Cullen, New Democrat Natural Resources Critic and MP for the northern BC riding of Skeena-Bulkley Valley. “The decisions are being made in Ottawa, but the First Nations and the local grassroots are saying that their future isn’t in the temporary jobs this would create. They are looking for real investments in new green energy.”

New Democrat Environmental Critic Linda Duncan (Edmonton-Strathcona) says one need only consider the record of the federal government in preventing and responding to spills to understand the opposition to this project.

“I experienced firsthand the devastation of the bunker C spill at Lake Wabamun and the failure by federal departments to respond including to address impacts to First Nation lands.,” said Duncan. “The concerns raised about risks posed by this project are well founded.”

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