The pristine coast of British Columbia, Photo by Paul Nicklen

The pristine coast of British Columbia, Photo by Paul Nicklen


Despite the loud warnings by citizens, environmental groups and First Nations, there has now been a large fuel spill in the Great Bear Sea. The Nathan E. Stewart, a 10,000-ton tanker barge owned by Texas-based Kirby Corporation, ran aground around 1 a.m. on October 13th, 2016 near the Heiltsuk town of Bella Bella. Tragically, the vessel, carrying 60,000 gallons of diesel, sank in a very sensitive traditional seafood harvesting area for the First Nations that have lived on this coast for thousands of years.

Canada's federal government is responsible for ensuring the ecological integrity of our coast, the livelihoods of coastal communities and First Nations, and the enforcement of existing laws.  These "small" tanker barges, however, are allowed to transport over half a million deadweight tons of petroleum products a year.  They travel without stopping in Canadian communities, from ports in Washington State to Alaska and they do it through the treacherous inside passages of British Columbia.

While all other petroleum product tankers that traverse the BC coast must travel at least 20 miles offshore in order to increase the time available for a rescue response in the event of disaster, and are required to have at least 2 pilots, these tanker barges are permitted to travel the inside passage and they are given exemptions for the mandatory oversight of pilots. We want to know why that is allowed and who is responsible. 

Finally, despite constant assurances to the contrary, neither the tug nor the Coast Guard had an adequate "spill control" kit.  Coastal communities demand answers for this as well.

Through this petition we call on Kevin OberMeyer, the CEO of Pacific Pilotage; the corporation responsible for appointing pilots to these types of vessels,  and on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to:

  • Listen to the Heiltsuk and Gitga'at First Nation's call to ban small tanker barges from inside water. Their livelihood depends on it.

       Learn more about the Heiltsuk's efforts to raise funds to mitigate this disaster here

  • Demand that communities affected by the spill be adequately compensated.
  • Demand accountability for this accident.  Someone signed a waiver to allow this tug to circulate without the mandatory 2 pilots. 

        Read the latest updates on the 10,000 ton tanker FB page here

  • Conduct an investigation on Coast Guard's ability to respond to an oil spill.  The boats that showed up to this accident had no equipment to respond.
  • Demand more stringent rules to ensure that oil products are shipped offshore and not on the narrow inside passages of BC.

         For more ways to help, check out our partner, Pacific WIld


Sign our Petition to Ban Oil from our Coast

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