A Massive Oil Spill…during The Salish Sea Tour

By Ben

What a week it’s been for the Salish Sea tour. Can you believe there was a massive oil spill a couple days ago? It’s a shocking reminder for us in the midst of our tour about why we are doing this. We are still only seeing the early details of the Nexen oil spill in Alberta rolling out. Five million litres of oil “spilled”.To put the spill in perspective, that’s over two Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil spilled over approximately four acres of land. That’s over six football fields worth of land affected (I like using sports comparisons). As a Coast Salish First Nations elder pointed out on my Facebook page this morning, “when in the millions: it’s not a leak: it’s a burst: breakage: but above all: It’s a god damn shame”. I agree.


What makes this incident even more shocking for me is that it’s happening right in the midst of our Salish Sea Tour. Here we are the day before our last big event in Victoria and all of a sudden oil spills are all over the news. We have been travelling along the tanker route in the Salish Sea from the Vancouver harbour to Victoria talking to people about alternatives to pipelines and tanker and now here we are in the midst of yet another story about oil spills. It was only a couple days ago I was falling asleep on the fishing net on the bow of the catamaran in Hope Bay on Pender Island.

This is what i wrote at the time:

I’m lying on the canopy of a solar powered catamaran at Hope Bay on Pender Island midway through our Salish Sea tour. I’m using a life jacket as a pillow. It’s actually remarkably comfortable. The canopy is like a hammock and the PFD reminds me of one of those neck pillows you can get get for falling asleep on long Greyhound bus trips. It’s amazing how many stars you can see out here compared to in the city. And below me there is beautiful bioluminescence lighting up the ocean water. An otter just swam under us glowing green in the lights.

A magical night like tonight is just a small reminder of how beautiful the Salish Sea is. This is anything but a “sacrifice zone” as some might think it is. Just because there is already industry in the Vancouver Harbour and shipping traffic passing this area doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to bring over 400 tankers a year through these waters.


These words are ringing in my ears as we hear of the latest tragic incident in what seems like a never ending stream of oily nightmares. We can and must stop these pipelines and oil tankers. This voyage on Salish Sea is only a beginning. We will complete the tour and return to Vancouver and from there the pictures and video we captured will be used for presentations to sailing clubs, rotary clubs and other public forums. Also Aerial Sea will continue be be a presence on the water, at coastal events and even more next year. We want to keep up the momentum we’ve gained by talking to be people about the renewable energy we so urgently need to implement to help us overcome our fossil fuel dependence.

Unfortunately, we are still a bit behind in our fundraising efforts to pay for this trip and our follow up expenses. The kind support of donors and supporters has made all this possible. If you haven’t had a chance to contribute yet. Please consider doing so now and helping us with this important campaign. You can donate here


Ben West
Executive Director
Tanker Free BC

P.S. Please feel free to send ideas and suggestions for groups or organizations that you think we should do a presentation or discussion with about our campaign. All feedback is welcomed and appreciated.