English Bay oil spill underscores need to keep Vancouver Coast Guard ship monitoring station open

VANCOUVER, April 10, 2015 /CNW/ - The scheduled closure of the Vancouver Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre (MCTS) threatens the ability to prevent shipping accidents and the capacity to provide a rapid response, says the union representing coast guard communications officers.

"The Harper government doesn't understand our city or our region," said Joie Warnock, Unifor's Western Director. "The coast guard plays a vital role protecting our waters. Without a monitoring station in Canada's busiest port, our ability to respond to the next oil spill is dramatically reduced."

The MCTS Centre in Vancouver harbour is scheduled to close on May 6, along with the Regional Marine Information Centre (RMIC). In the event of an emergency, the RMIC notifies responders and government agencies so an immediate response can be mobilized.

The Harper government cuts that will shutter the notification centre are part of broader budget cuts to the West Coast marine safety network. The coast guard will no longer provide anchorage assistance to ships—including oil tankers—when the MCTS Centre closes next month. BC Coast Pilots and Port Metro Vancouver have opposed the elimination of anchorage assistance by the coast guard.

"When a serious pollution incident happens, quick notification and response is key to limiting the spread of pollutants," said Allan Hughes, Western Director of Unifor Local 2182. "The Harper government is dismantling the west coast's prevention and emergency response system that has been in place for decades."

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 305,000 workers. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.

SOURCE Unifor

For further information: For more information, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at 778-903-6549 (cell) or Ian.Boyko@Unifor.org

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