Stranded Russian tanker sparks new environmental debate

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The Mayor of Queen Charlotte, Carol Kulesh is responsible for the village that was in the path of the container ship when it was feared it could run aground while carrying hundreds of tones of fuel.

“I haven’t got a clue how we can be set up to handle something like that,” Mayor Kulesh said. “Everything is hours and hours away, the coast is a very rocky and jagged place. You can’t contain it; you can’t get it into shallow waters and put a boom around it.”

Mayor Kulesh adds, “It is a disaster and there’s no easy answer.”

Andrew Merilees, Mayor for the village of Masset agrees and says that’s why this incident should be viewed as a wake up call.

“There needs to be an outright ban on all oil tanker traffic traveling around the island of Haida… We feel powerless; it’s a very isolated area and I think it really highlights the danger with transporting oil tankers along this section of the coast,” Mayor Merilees said. “There’s no reason why this couldn’t have been an oil tanker that was floundering a few kilometers, imminently threatening the coast of British Columbia.”

The Haida First Nation and other aboriginal groups have also gone on record to say the incident has revealed flaws in Canada’s West Coast marine response to such an emergency.

A tugboat towing a disabled Russian vessel has arrived in Prince Rupert and is expected to stay there for the next 48 hours.

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