Public pressure is mounting for the federal government to step up and help the community of Bella Bella as they struggle to clean up a large diesel spill which has contaminated shellfish harvesting areas crucial to the First Nation’s economy.
Diesel from the submerged Nathan E. Stewart tug has now been pumped out of its tanks, but more than 100,000 litres of diesel remains in the ocean.
Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen penned a letter to four of Justin Trudeau’s Ministers today, placing the blame for the spill at the feet of their departments.
“The folks in Bella Bella are hurting, as it is right now they don’t have an incredibly strong economy but this is one important piece of it. And now that whole things been devastated; they can’t harvest clams and sell them. The whole area could be contaminated for years to come.” he said in an interview
Cullen says impacted fisherman and the Heiltsuk First Nation should be compensated for their loss and called the spill response completely inadequate.
He says the current spill response infrastructure has completely failed this incident – what should have been a minor spill.
“For anyone who is reliant on an economy, it would be like trying to protect from forest fires by having something 700km away and just making sure someone has a cup of water… it just doesn’t show responsible government or even basic levels of respect.”
Cullen would like to see coastal first nations and communities funded and empowered by the federal government to deal with these spills if the Coast Guard won’t be able to do it themselves.
The letter also prodded Trudeau to live up to his campaign promise for an oil supertanker ban on the north coast of BC.
BC NDP Leader John Horgan also sent Ottawa a letter today asking for better spill response.
The Heiltsuk First Nation has fund raised more than $32,000 to help cover mitigation efforts not covered by the tugboat owners, as well as an independent investigation into the incident.