Letter: Factual, balanced information about oil tankers

You had to wonder why the Governor of Washington State is so opposed to a pipeline in B.C.

I wanted to thank you for Tom Fletcher’s opinion piece (Penticton Western News, March 3, B.C. VIEWS: Killer whales are the new polar bears of politics).

Finally some factual, balanced information about oil tankers, marine traffic and resident orca populations off B.C.’s coast. You had to wonder why the governor of Washington State is so opposed to a pipeline in B.C., when Washington State has five refineries, pipelines and unrefined oil tanker traffic of their own. Turns out Washington State refiners get about 30 per cent of their oil from Canada, including from oil sands shipped by rail and pipelines. Could it be that Washington refineries benefit from limited markets for Canadian oil? Maybe it keeps the price of Canadian oil low? Most of Washington’s unrefined oil comes from Alaska, shipped past B.C.’s coast with much frequency. Somehow this isn’t a problem for the governor, or apparently for orcas and other marine wildlife.

One doesn’t have to dig very far to get the facts (i.e. credible information from actual researchers) about the issue of marine traffic, resident orcas and the long term state of this population. On the inside passage, B.C. ferry traffic is the most frequent and troublesome for marine life. From what I have read, noise from marine traffic has a far larger impact on the health of whale populations than ship strikes. Have you ever been on a B.C. ferry? I want to wear earplugs just sitting in the passenger section. Can you imagine the vibration and noise coming from these vessels and affecting marine life? Yet no one is talking about reducing ferry traffic. Resident killer whales have a very limited diet and declining salmon stocks are also a key issue for their survival. Undoubtedly their lack of success ‘fishing’ is compounded by noisy marine (ferry) traffic affecting their ability to detect their prey. Resident orcas have also had historically very low populations, as Tom points out. It is interesting to also look at the transient orca population, which despite the same marine traffic, seem to be at very healthy and stable levels.

I think when it comes to external parties, like the governor of Washington State, pitching in with their opinions about Canada’s resources, pipelines etc., we need to understand what may be behind them. Who benefits from shutting down oil sands development and shipments? If the governor is so concerned, perhaps he should start talking to the five refineries in his state. Tanker traffic doesn’t appear to be the biggest threat for resident orcas.

If you are interested in traffic risks related to oil shipments consider this: has the lack of oil pipeline capacity caused a spike in semi-truck accidents and associated deaths? Because a lot of that freight on those trucks used to be shipped by rail but that capacity is now displaced by oil-by-rail due to the lack of pipelines.

Deirdre Riley


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton woman to ‘load up the cart’ with toys for local hospital

Pascale-Ann Demers launched a GoFundMe to upgrade the toy supply at Penticton Regional Hospital

Cannery Brewing’s patio expansion plans delayed by COVID-19

Once open, the new patio will look quite different than originally planned

Playgrounds to reopen across the Okanagan on June 1

After nearly two months closure, playgrounds are set to reopen

Long-time South Okanagan principal retires, another takes the helm

Jeff Redden will start as principal of Naramata Elementary School in August

100 miles in 24 hours: a B.C. man’s mission to support the less fortunate

Merritt’s Darius Sam felt he needed to help his community after an encounter with a struggling woman

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

Flood watch for Salmon River upgraded as high temperatures, rain forecast

Shuswap Emergency Program warns residents to prepare now for possible extreme flooding

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

RCMP request public’s help in locating missing Salmon Arm man

Ken Derkach is a familiar face to many, one of the city’s residents who is without a home

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

VIDEO: Police look for suspect seen tripping elderly woman in Burnaby

The elderly woman was walking near the SkyTrain station when she was randomly tripped

Drunk man on a dirt bike and prohibited drivers without insurance keep Shuswap RCMP busy

Other calls resulted in excessive speed tickets and the arrests of two prohibited drivers

Most Read