British Columbia is represented on the Oil Spill Task Force by the Ministry of Environment, which works to protect people, property, and the environment from spill hazards through its Environmental Emergency Program. The program’s mission statement is: Exemplary Environmental Emergency Management through Leadership, Organization, Teamwork, and Shared Responsibility.
The Environmental Management Branch in Victoria (Headquarters) undertakes environmental emergency planning for both the regional Environmental Emergency Response Officers and the provincial Incident Management Team.
On average, 3,000 to 3,500 spills are reported annually to the ministry. Most of these spills are accidental oil and hazardous material releases. The Environmental Emergency Program has 16 Response Officers (EEROs) located in ten regional offices throughout the province who are available to respond to these spills. For large and complex spill incidents, the ministry can also activate its Incident Management Team (IMT). This team is tasked with the provincial delivery of the BC Marine Oil Spill Response Plan, BC Inland Spill Response Plan and the BC Hazardous Material Response Plan. The team functions according to the internationally accepted and provincially adopted Incident Command System which includes the application of Unified Command with the Responsible Party (spiller) and other responding jurisdictions.
Environmental Emergency Programme
Developing a World Class Spill Regime
The West Coast Spill Response Study, prepared for the Province by Nuka Research in 2013, provides key elements for a world class system that includes spill prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. The study consists of three volumes:
- Volume 1 [PDF 7.98MB] – An initial assessment and gap analysis of the existing marine spill prevention and response regime in place for B.C.
- Volume 2 [PDF 5.81MB] – A vessel traffic study assessing the current and potential levels of shipping on the west coast of Canada, and the current volume of hydrocarbons being shipped or used as fuel.
- Volume 3 [PDF 4.98MB] – An analysis to identify international best practices and elements required for establishing a world class marine spill preparedness and response regime, which is one of B.C.’s five conditions for considering heavy oil transport.
The Latest News and Updates
The intentions paper summarizes amendments to the Environmental Management Act (EMA), introduced on Feb 29, 2016, if passed, provide the legal foundation to establish a new spill preparedness and response regime to address environmental emergencies in B.C.
Vancouver Island Risk Assessment Study
A risk assessment study was completed for Vancouver Island and vicinity using the Sampson model. Carried out by Dylan Consulting out of Eastern Canada in 2015. The study found that Port Angeles WA was the highest risk area. Deadline for pubic input is March 2017 (public meetings taking place this May/June) after which the studies will be incorporated into Area Response Plan for entire West Coast of B.C.