Vancouver oil spill risk heightened due to refuelling changes, expert says - British Columbia

A Vancouver researcher is raising concerns about the risk of ship-to-ship refuelling in English Bay following a bunker fuel spill in the area last month.

In 2013, rules around safe bunkering practices changed so that, among other amendments, 275 metre-long ships could refuel in the water off English Bay.The process involves transferring fuel from a barge through a hose to the ship. 

Risk assessment expert and former KPMG partner Eoin Finn says allowing bunkering in the open water raises the risk of a spill. The large vessels could carry up to 3,500 tonnes of bunker fuel, oil that is similar to what was spilled into English Bay last month by the MV Marathassa, he said. 

"The risk of the separation of that hose connection, the risk of the communication between two ships as to when the tank is full and to stop pumping, and generally, the risk of other accidents and malfunctions, equipment hazards, as well, while all that is going on is much greater with an at-sea refilling than with shore-side refuelling," Finn told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Finn will be speaking on the issue in Vancouver on Tuesday night.

More refuelling options needed 

Port Metro Vancouver says ship-to-ship refuelling has always been allowed in two places along Burrard Inlet  east of the Second Narrows, or in the inner harbour between the First Narrows and Second Narrows.

Bunkering alongside a dock also happens at those two locations, and on the Fraser River. Refuelling is not allowed at Roberts Bank.

The decisi....

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