News / Vancouver

Vancouver spent ‘hundreds of thousands’ on English Bay fuel spill: deputy city manager

The City of Vancouver spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in response to the toxic fuel spill in English Bay, the city’s deputy manager revealed Monday, but getting reimbursed is proving harder than sending a bill to polluter.

Deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston said he couldn’t disclose the full cost since the city is still tallying receipts from the April 8 oil spill, but he estimated the final bill will be “definitely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

That’s on top of undetermined expenses incurred by the Canadian Coast Guard, West Coast Marine Response Corporation and the province in response to the estimated 3,000-litre bunker fuel spill from the MV Marathassa.

“The taxpayer should not be on the hook to clean up after this company,” Johnston said.

Yet nearly two months after the spill, "it's a bit of a maze" trying to figure out how best to get reimbursed from a variety of sources, Johnston said.

The city can either go through a federal ship-sourced pollution fund, Emergency Management B.C. or the ship’s owners, or it can pursue legal action.

Its expenses include staff time – more than 200 employees were deployed – direct costs such as protective equipment, and consultant costs for ecological testing. The city also spent money on its debrief, the coast guard review and on legal costs.

It’s too early to say how long reimbursement will take or whether the ship’s owners will respect all of the expense claims, Johnston said. (There were disagreements during the response when the polluter said it wouldn’t cover costs of environmental testing yet the city did it anyway.)

Johnston called for a review of Canada’s polluter pay model and questioned why each party needs to negotiate instead of just sending the polluter a bill.

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