Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill in northern B.C.
The Talbert Channel, a narrow waterway that extends through Howe Sound for kilometres, is the scene of a near-total shutdown in March 2017 after a massive pipeline spill from an oil tanker spilled millions of litres of oil into Howe Sound, triggering the longest marine oil spill in history. The spill was the result of human error and negligence — the negligence of the Trans Mountain company that owns and operates the pipeline.
In response to the spill, Trans Mountain and the provincial government announced that a long-awaited environmental review process was to be initiated. Trans Mountain announced that it would not continue with the project — something it had announced it would do months earlier. The NDP government said the company’s decision to exit the project was the best course of action. The two sides reached a settlement in the case just as the lawsuit was slated to be resolved, but this report will show that it does not leave the company with a clean slate or without guilt — the company did the work to make the massive spill happen, and the government should be held publicly responsible for its contribution.
In a report published as part of the settlement, Trans Mountain acknowledged that the failure to properly train workers and the lack of a safety management system led to the incident. (Trans Mountain was later taken over by the National Energy Board, which did not respond to specific questions in this report but did release a statement in response to questions from The Canadian Press.)
Trans Mountain’s former chief executive, George Cope, has since made his feelings about the safety of the project known. In a speech at an industry conference in Houston, Cope expressed a desire to see Trans Mountain fail — a sentiment that appears to have led Trans Mountain’s board to remove him from his position. The government of Canada has also been unsympathetic, according to people who have spoken to the government officials involved in the review.
But for all that, after 18 days of hearings, a group of former Trans Mountain employees testified last month at the B.C. Court of Appeal against the company’s decision to not pay its workers for their time off in the days after the incident.
The testimony by former Trans Mountain workers was an extension of