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West Coast Marine Response Corporation

The West Coast Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) is a Transport Canada certified response organization that has been operating on the West Coast of Canada since establishment in 1976. While initially borne out of a cooperative between the major oil companies operating in the Port of Vancouver, the corporation is now federally mandated under the Canada Shipping Act in 1995 following several large spills along the West Coast of North America.

Their mandate is simple enough in theory as stated in their website; “ensure there is a state of preparedness in place when a marine spill occurs and to mitigate the impacts on B.C.’s coast. This includes the protection of wildlife, economic and environmental sensitivities, and the safety of both responders and the public” which is admittedly much more complicated when put into practice. Membership to the WCMRC is mandatory for shipowners “of vessels 400 gross tonnes or greater, or oil tankers over 150 gross tonnes or greater, calling on ports on Canada’s West Coast” and oil handling facilities that “loads or unloads oil across our marine environment must also pay fees to WCMRC.” Cost of membership for ship owners is $775.00 CAD (plus a $175.00 CAD arrangement fee as recommend by the Chamber of Shipping) and contributes to the WCMRC’s annual operating costs (costs incurred for a spill must be paid by the polluter).

As an example of these operating costs, the WCMRC authorities host simulations periodically throughout the year for training purposes and to uphold Transport Canada accreditation. The latest of these simulations occurred in April 2019 in the Port of Nanaimo and mimicked a diesel spill. Additionally, the WCMRC intends to expand full time sites in the Fraser River, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Saanich Peninsula and near Sooke in order to increase response time and improve efficiency. These projects rely on approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion which would have partially funded construction through a toll-based system according to this CBC article. Until the pipeline is confirmed, the WCMRC expansion will have to wait.

Simulated spill off Vancouver Island keeps vessels ready to respond