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Island MPs want a federal response plan for container debris spills

Emergency plan ‘best response to minimize the impact of spills’ — MP Lisa Marie Barron
The MV Zim Kingston arrives in Nanaimo Harbour last week. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Two federal MPs from Vancouver Island are calling on the government to develop an emergency response plan for ocean container debris spills.

NDP MPs Lisa Marie Barron from Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Rachel Blaney from North Island-Powell River pressed the Minister Joyce Murray (Vancouver Quadra) for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard to develop a plan, in the wake of the MV Zim Kingston spill in October.

RELATED: Calamitous MV Zim Kingston cleared to unload fire-damaged containers in Nanaimo

“The MV Zim Kingston spill spread toxic chemicals, damaged marine ecosystems, and spread debris along our shores. The Liberal government failed to work with local Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to immediately coordinate a response to this crisis,” said Barron. “The best response to minimize the impact of spills like this is to ensure that we have an emergency plan that is guided by local and traditional knowledge.”

The ship lost 109 containers and caught fire after a winter storm in October. The vessel was moved to Duke Point in Nanaimo for off-loading of damaged containers before it sails to the lower mainland for the rest of the unloading process.

The MPs are also urging the government to ensure all local responders have the information they need for the clean up project related to the MV Zim Kingston spill. This includes a full manifest of what was lost in the containers. They also want the owners of shipping companies to be held financially accountable for costs related to clean up.

“Spills like the MV Kingston are becoming increasingly common along our coasts,” said Blaney. “Last year, between October and January, over 3,000 shipping containers fell into the Pacific Ocean. With more traffic and a worsening climate crisis, emergencies will become more common. The government must stop patting themselves on the back, and get to work to ensure communities are able to address these emergencies.”

RELATED: MV Zim Kingston arrives in Nanaimo

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Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Campbell River Mirror in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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