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B.C. oil spill response 'gaps' exposed in government email

10/27/2014 03:04 EDT | Updated 12/27/2014 05:59 EST
British Columbia's oil spill response has come under scrutiny after the emergence of an email between high-ranking staff at the Ministry of Environment referring to "hundreds of spills on an annual basis where gaps occurred or improvements are needed."

The heavily redacted email, which was discovered by the NDP as part of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, was sent on March 31 by Graham Knox, head of B.C.'s Environmental Emergency Program, to Jim Hofweber, executive director of the province's Environmental Emergencies and Land Remediation Branch.

Several incidents are mentioned where an effective response was considered lacking, including one from a Kinder Morgan pipeline spill at their Sumas Tank farm where, "no air monitoring or sampling was done to determine what the concentrations of chemicals in the air".

According to the email, Kinder Morgan assured the public there were no health impacts from the spill despite having no scientific evidence to back those claims up, and in the face of community complaints of "nausea, headaches, strong odours, etc."

Areas of concern raised included the effectiveness of spill reporting, the training and certification of responders, data collection and monitors, environmental restoration and compensation of loss of public use.

Under the compensation category, reference was made to the Burnaby Kinder Morgan pipeline spill and the closure of numerous parks and beaches for a "significant" time period.

The email notes that no monetary compensation was provided to the community for this loss of access, and that should a future spill encroach on U.S. land as well as B.C.,  the public on the American side of the border would be entitled to compensation.

A section headed 'capability and capacity" was entirely redacted.

- Read the full email below. On mobile? Click here.

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