Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to barring oil tankers from the waters of northern British Columbia, according to Reuters.
Garneau made the promise on a CBC radio show. The country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for the ban last year but environmentalists have been concerned about delays in implementing it.
Concerns about potential tanker pollution in the area arose anew last month when a US tugboat, the Nathan E Stewart, ran aground and spilled fuel on a reef near Bella Bella at the entrance to Sea Forth Channel on Athlone Island in BC.
Official response to the spill was criticized for being slow and disorganized and people of the aboriginal Heiltsuk Nation in the vicinity said the spill emphasized the need for a tanker ban.
Energy industry advocates are concerned that a tanker ban would effectively sound the death knell for the planned Northern Gateway pipeline, which would carry oil sands crude from near Edmonton, Alberta, to a port at Kitimat, BC, for export to Asian markets.