B.C. First Nation wants 'priority' role in oil spill response regime

Bunker fuel leaks from the bulk carrier cargo ship Marathassa anchored on Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, on Thursday, April 9, 2015.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER - A B.C. First Nation is demanding to play a "priority-one role" in responses to oil spills, following last week's toxic fuel spill in English Bay.

The Squamish Nation says it is determined to protect valuable fisheries and other marine resources within its territory, which spans Vancouver Harbour, English Bay and the beaches of North and West Vancouver.

Chief Ian Campbell says the recent spill shows the federal government has a long way to go before it meets a commitment made last year to have a "world class" tanker safety system including marine safety in aboriginal communities.

He says the incident shows that a bigger spill response system must include all marine traffic in Vancouver's port, not just focusing on oil tankers.

Campbell says his nation is insisting on being called first after a spill, on the same priority list as the City of Vancouver and the provincial government.

The MV Marathassa dumped at least 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into English Bay last Wednesday and quickly spread to beaches along Stanley Park and North and West Vancouver.

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