Inadequate responses all around
Re: Squamish estuary recovery in question (Pique, March 29)
I sent a letter to federal, provincial, and Squamish municipal officials, as well as to representatives of the Squamish Nation, last August. I had supportive replies from some Squamish Nation members, and a polite reply from a B.C. government official indicating that, unfortunately, the matter was under federal jurisdiction. I had no replies from federal representatives. In that letter, I outlined the penalties in law for polluters such as Gearbulk; I urged that the law be enforced to the maximum so as to send a clear message that those who defile Canada are not welcome here.
I now read that:
1) Continued cleanup efforts have been lacking;
2) A representative for Gearbulk Canada was "surprised" to learn there is still garbage (from the cleanup effort) at the site;
3) A provincial government representative admitted the province's response to the accident was inadequate;
4) Transport Canada did not lay charges against the ship owners;
5) The estuary remains highly contaminated;
6) Dredging the estuary is being suggested as an alternative cleanup measure by company officials. A U.S.-based engineering company that worked on the Exxon Valdez spill labelled this a "kill it to save it" approach.
This is not good news, is it?
Worse, this is only one of many environmental disasters to befall the region in recent years. In no case that I am aware of has there been an attempt at prosecution of the guilty parties. I am becoming profoundly pessimistic about the will and the ability of the various levels of government to deal with these sorts of situations. It appears that those we have elected to protect our land are either inattentive, or weak, or duplicitous, or are fools. It is unfortunate that we, the people of B.C., are in the position of having to pay for this sort of hired help; it seems our money is wasted.
It also appears we are distracted if the criminal is wearing a suit. Can't send the Suit to jail, can we? I mean, it's just not proper.
I was there at the Squamish Spit that Friday last August, and watched the whole sad thing unfold. I saw the ship pushed back onto old pilings; saw the oil slick, blown by 20-knot winds, make its way to land. I noticed no emergency response, other than to clear the water of people. Three tugs danced uselessly around the punctured vessel, apparently without plan or direction.