Join me in the cold, dark, life-sustaining NE Pacific Ocean to discover the great beauty, mystery and fragility hidden there.

Mr. Prime Minister . . . . (after the Bella Bella spill)

Thank you dear reader, thank you for caring enough to come to this page.

You are among those who are gutted by what is being learned from the sinking of the tug, the Nathan E. Stewart, near Bella Bella on BC’s North Coast. You have not somehow rationalized it away, but see the spill fully for what it is – a disaster – a cultural, environmental, and economic disaster. This was “only” the diesel from a tug – a dire indicator of what insane risks are being flirted with regarding tanker traffic on our coast.

You want the lessons to be fully learned and acted on. You want the voices of those most directly impacted to be heard. You don’t want it to happen again.

You want to know what to do.

You are my motivation for this page. For you, I want to bundle what I believe are the most useful actions we can undertake with the resources that support them.

Mammal-hunting Orca T057A traveling through the area of the spill. Photo: ©April Bencze.

Mammal-hunting Orca T057A traveling through the area of the spill. Photo: ©April Bencze.

Please see the four “What You Can Do” points below and, as if you needed further motivation, read the words below. They are from April Bencze. She and Tavish Campbell are on site striving to be of use to the Heiltsuk First Nation in witnessing and documenting the extent of the the impact of the spill with their considerable skills as video/photographers and divers. They are dear friends of mine. I will update this blog with their insights and images and those of the Heiltsuk. April’s powerful words from this morning  . . . .

“Every tide pool has a layer of diesel coating it. The sea breeze, my favourite smell in the world, now reeks of diesel, burns my eyes and gives me a headache as I walk the beach looking into each devastated tide pool and seeing the intertidal life being irreversibly poisoned. Spill response can’t fix this. No one can fix this, no matter how much money or how many resources are thrown at it. Canada should not pretend it has the ability to undo this damage. Justin Trudeau should be mourning the loss of a large expanse of wilderness that has been poisoned, and then do everything in his power to ensure this never happens again. That means no tankers on this coast. But it’s hard. It is hard because Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cannot see the marine life dying. He cannot feel the sting of diesel in his eyes. He cannot taste oil on the breeze where there should only be salty fresh air. He cannot see the deer and wolves feeding on the diesel-soaked intertidal life. He cannot see the orcas inhaling diesel and diving with it permeating their lungs. He cannot see the grief of the people who live here. He cannot see the thick diesel covering the ocean, and the tides that carry it to all stretches of the land. He cannot see the spill response team being dismissive about reports of diesel sheen near sensitive salmon creeks. He cannot see that the people here mourn the loss of their food source from the very beaches now made toxic. This is a disaster. Please start a conversation about what you are willing to risk to transport oil/fuel on this coast. I did not accept this risk. The Heiltsuk Nation did not accept this risk. Did you?”

What You Can Do:

  1. Write Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, referencing the election promise made to “Formalize a moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic on British Columbia’s North Coast.” This can easily be done by using the David Suzuki Foundation’s resource at this link and adapting the text as you see fit to reference the Bella Bella spill. Let him know that you too do not accept the risk.

    Click to enlarge. Content from PM Trudeau’s November 2015 mandate letter to the Minister of Transport confirming the priority of the moratorium. The mandate letter can be found here.

  2. Reduce the use of fossil fuels and support initiatives to transition to non-carbon energy sources. Enjoy the savings as well as the knowledge that you are not fuelling the demand that threatens our coast with tanker traffic.
  3. Support the Heiltsuk First Nation. If you can, provide financial support so that the impacts can be independently investigated, documented and made public. See this link to make donations.
  4. Help amplify the knowledge of this spill. This happened on a pristine, remote part of BC’s coast.  Imagine the attention and action there would be had it happened near an urban centre. Imagine the number of outraged voters wanting risks reduced. Imagine the resulting political will to follow through on campaign promises. There are those in powerful positions who hope that the remoteness of the disaster means that the concern will go away – unlike the impacts of the spill. Please let’s not let that happen.

Coming: Slide show of April and Tavish’s photos.


7 Responses to “Mr. Prime Minister . . . . (after the Bella Bella spill)”

  1. Craig golby

    I am commercial diving harvesting in the area and have not seen anything that leap saying. This is blown way out of proportion for political gain. It is so disappointing to see people jump on an opportunity to money grab from the government. The first nations and all other organizations lining up to be paid for clean up and observations. Sad really sad.

    • The Marine Detective

      Hello Craig – Thank you for your comment. I am approving it in wanting there to be open communication albeit I clearly do not believe that there is exploitation of the situation for the purposes of financial gain. I am surprised at your response seeing that you harvest in the area, likely on filter-feeding animals too and that there would be great benefit for those buying the product to know if contaminants did or did not accumulate at levels of concern. Will leave it to others to provide further insights.

  2. Dan

    There are students that were on dragons den in 2014 who developed a method to clean oil spills.
    Their names are Vicki Kleu and and Austin Sawyer.
    They have had alot of success and would be worth looking into so that future events such as this oil spill may be cleaned right away.

  3. snddmnd

    Please stop developing more oil traffic, please stop present level of oil traffic. Please let Canada move forward into the next generation of energy. As a Canadian I ask this of you please.
    Sandy Dimond

  4. Brendan Coyle

    The response from the feds sounds poor in light of the larger picture of proposed tanker traffic in the north and south coasts.

  5. Andrew Hughes

    How can we expect the spill response teams to deal with a large oil tanker spill if they are struggling with a relatively small diesel spill of a tugboats fuel tanks?

  6. Brendan Coyle

    Also – I am wondering why the feds are announcing they are going to pay out the cost of clean-up and reimburse the Hieltsuk. I agree the FNs affected need to be compensated but shouldn’t that cost be borne by the barge company insurance rather than taxpayers?


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