Letter: Catastrophic oil spill in coastal waters could still happen

Re: Coast Guard hysteria sinks lower, B.C. Views (April 29)

Re: Coast Guard hysteria sinks lower, B.C. Views (April 29)

I think the operative word that eludes Mr. Fletcher’s description of the recent spill and cleanup of oil in English Bay is “preparedness.”

He derides just about everyone who might have a criticism of our current federal government policies regarding the West Coast in general, because disaster after disaster hasn’t piled upon itself like so many shipwrecks on the rocks.

In his own words: “It’s been two years, and nobody has [drowned]”- this in regard to the closing of Kitsilano Coast Guard station.

Likewise, the recent oil spill can be considered a trial run for “the big one” (not the earthquake/tsunami big one), as tanker traffic is ramped up, even as resources to battle what some people call the inevitable (not Mr. Fletcher though) are reduced.  The English Bay fuel spill was 3,000 litres. A supertanker spill could be as much as 300,000 barrels of oil. Are we prepared for that?

From the example of  the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska, which was a 250,000-barrel spill, we are not ready for much more than a ship casually pumping out its ballast.

But, according to Mr. Fletcher, because a catastrophic spill hasn’t happened, it apparently can never happen. The “hysteria” surrounding our wee oil spill is nothing more than shrieking, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling.”

His response to media and public responses over the oil spill, if we apply it to the schools across this province, leads one to argue there is no need for earthquake upgrades because there hasn’t yet been a school that has collapsed from an earthquake.

Richard WeatherillSaanich