HARTLEY BAY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 19, 2013) - Arnold Clifton, Chief Councillor of the Gitga'at First Nation, issued the following statement in response to newly announced federal oil spill regulations focused on aerial patrols of coastal waters, a new oil tanker safety panel and inspections. He questions how the federal government will respond to a major oil spill when it can't even get the smaller ones right:
"The first place they can fly over is our territory, where the Zalinski is still leaking oil. We counted three oil slicks yesterday, despite claims by the government that they've patched the wreckage."
The USAT Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship, sank in 1946, inside the Grenville Channel, not far from the proposed tanker route for the Enbridge Gateway pipeline. It had 700 tonnes of "bunker c" fuel on board, and continues to leak.
"Regardless of these new regulations, an accident is still inevitable and the consequences of an oil spill would be a complete disaster for the Gitga'at First Nation - destroying our marine-based way of life, on which our culture is based."
"Yesterday's announcement suggests that the Harper government is intent on ramming this project through, despite the very serious concerns of First Nations, whose very culture and way of life is threatened by oil tankers, no matter how heavily regulated they are."
Gitga'at territory encompasses roughly 7,500 square kilometres of land and water, including a major portion of Douglas Channel, which is the proposed oil tanker route for the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.
Map of Gitga'at territory (free for use by media):