The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League


ROBSON BIGHT UPDATE

4-11-08

On April 9th, Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn was asked in Parliament if he had a plan in place to remove the equipment including a diesel fuel truck that fell from a tanker in Robson Bight (BC) before the whales return. He replied:

"Sometimes trying to remove things such as the tanker can do more harm than good and we are not going to do that"

Action alert posted by Living Oceans Society:
You can help in two ways:

1. Phone Minister Hearn: (613) 992-3474 and tell him to raise the wrecked logging equipment in Robson Bight.

2. Mail Minister Hearn a letter

Snail mail address:
The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent St.
Ottawa, ON
Canada
K1A 0E6
The fax number is: (613) 995-7858
E-mail: Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

SAMPLE MESSAGE
The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6
Canada

Dear Minister Hearn:

Re: Robson Bight Fuel Truck and Logging Equipment Recovery

I am writing to you as a matter of urgency, requesting that your government take immediate action to recover the sunken fuel truck and other logging equipment from the Robson Bight orca reserve. It has now been over seven months since this tragic accident occurred and time is running out to complete the operation before the fuel truck begins leaking and threatens the health of the whales.

Underwater video filmed in December revealed that the fuel truck and six other pieces of equipment are upright and in good condition on the seafloor, although corrosion of the vehicles has already begun. The other four pieces of equipment are crushed together. There is every reason to believe that the fuel truck is still full of diesel and that the original spill was caused by the four crushed pieces of equipment as they came off the barge.

The initial spill last August was bad enough. Up to 50 orcas swam through diesel for up to six hours before leaving the area. A larger spill would be disastrous for the Northern Resident and Transient orcas that are already listed as "threatened" under Canada's Species At Risk Act. It is therefore imperative that this clean-up happen now. I urge your government to initiate the recovery recover costs from the responsible parties later.

I share your concern that during the recovery the fuel truck could leak, however, it is my understanding that an oil cloak can be constructed to protect the ocean from any diesel which leaks during recovery.

Canada cannot afford to gamble with the world's best known orca habitat, nor with the health of its whales. Any further delay will put our most iconic marine animals at risk. Please take action now. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,


Source for the notice above: http://www.livingoceans.org/programs/energy/action.aspx


NY4Whales Letter to Canadian Officials

April 15, 2008

The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
200 Kent St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6
Canada

Dear Minister Hearn:

Re: Robson Bight Fuel Truck and Logging Equipment Recovery / A Looming Environmental Disaster Threatens the Entire Region

The world waits for Canada's response to this accident, and the incident which has become a matter of international concern and even protest.

The Canadian government MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION to recover the sunken fuel truck and other logging equipment from the Robson Bight Orca Reserve. The scandalous lapse of time from the date of the accident until now - seven entire months! - portends bitter future national embarrassment. The fact that "time is running out" before the region's whales return should propel the government to swift decisive action, yet, shockingly, the fate of the Orcas, part of one of the most beloved - and most thoroughly researched - cetaceans populations in the world - seems to matter little to those resigned to inaction. One would think that the outrage and international condemnation that will surely follow the government's failure to protect the Orcas from exposure to the hazardous conditions would propel swift action. Instead, the threat to the protected whales becomes more and more profound with each passing day, even as the looming environmental disaster threatens the entire region.

It is now a fact, from underwater video taken in December, 2007, that the equipment and vehicle in the water are already showing signs of corrosion.

The film also revealed that four pieces of equipment that most certainly caused the original oil spill are crushed together, while the six pieces of equipment and the fuel truck are sitting upright on the sea floor. Estimates from the size of the original spill, presumed from the destroyed equipment, lead most to conclude that the fuel truck still contains its diesel fuel load, now perilously resting on the bottom. Let's not forget that almost 50 Orcas spent several hours swimming through the toxic muck left by the original diesel fuel spill. The effects on the resident and transient Orcas, listed under Canada's Species At Risk, will be heightened more severely should further exposure occur.

The recovery procedure should include a protective "cloak" around the fuel truck to contain any fuel that may leak while the truck is being moved. It is imperative that this process begin immediately. Please keep us advised of the clean-up and recovery plan as well as the progress of the project as it is made. Thank you very much.

Sincerely,

Taffy Williams, Director
New York Whale and Dolphin Action League


March 27, 2008

Robson Bight update
Waiting, waiting...

When a barge dangerously laden with logging equipment, including a tanker truck of diesel fuel, spilled its load in the heart of the world's best known orca habitat the Ecological Reserve at Robson Bight - last August 20th, whale lovers were outraged, environmentalists dismayed, the public alerted, and even the oil industry took note.

Canada's initial response, via its Coastguard, was to discount the possibility of serious impacts by claiming all the oil and fuel had been released and dispersed. Eventually, after being pressured by NGOs who raised the funds needed to conduct an underwater investigation, the governments of British Columbia and Canada commissioned an underwater inspection of the spill site. This was completed in early December. Months later, despite video evidence (www.livingoceans.org) that the tanker truck is intact and probably still full of toxic diesel fuel we are still waiting for an announcement that the next obvious step cleanup will be undertaken before the orcas return in early summer. Organizing and conducting the cleanup will take time, once the decision is made, and time is passing quickly. Meanwhile, a ticking toxic time bomb is lying on the ocean floor 350m below Robson Bight.

The absence of official reaction to the evidence from the underwater inspection is puzzling, and disturbing. The only thing that seems clear is that once again the governments are dragging their feet. Possibly they are hoping the problem will go away if they ignore it long enough. That simply isn't good enough. The orcas will return soon, probably in June & no later than July. If the fuel tanker isn't removed by the time the orcas arrive, it will be considered too risky to do the job until they leave again in the fall or early winter. This means the cleanup could be pushed back to next spring. Meanwhile, the diesel might remain inside the tanker, or it might not. If it is released when orcas are present, the result could be catastrophic. Leaving it lying at the bottom with orcas swimming above is foolhardy and negligent. For the orcas' sake, and to ensure the ecological integrity of Robson Bight, the job must be done now. Waiting any longer is not an option.

As a matter of urgency, please insist that Canada and British Columbia act now. Make a phone call, send a letter or email to help protect the region's orcas. Here are the contact details:

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
Email: Min@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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
Email: env.minister@gov.bc.ca


The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League
PO Box 273, Tuckahoe, NY 10707 USA
Phone: 914-793-9186
Email: ny4whales@optonline.net
To subscribe send an email to ny4whales-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

A Project of Cetacean Society International

URL for this page: http://ny4whales.org/actionalert20080405.html