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City has no power if oil spill happens here: Mayor

Vancouver city council spent two hours Monday on an issue it has no power to solve.

Mayor Gregor Robertson chaired a special meeting to consider implications of a hypothetical oil tanker spill in area waters. Robertson acknowledged the British Petroleum oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has caused a “sense of anxiety,” but he conceded that the city has no jurisdiction over the federal Port Metro Vancouver.

“If there was an accident that impacted our beaches and our shoreline, it involves the city directly,” Robertson said.

PMV chief operating officer Chris Badger said 8.3 million tonnes of petroleum products moved through five facilities east of the Second Narrows last year. Of that, 6.2 million tonnes was exported via Burrard Inlet. California was the top market.

In 2004, Canada became the top oil supplier to the United States.

Oceanographer Peter Baker said the turbulent Second Narrows could be the site of a tanker crash because it is only 121 metres wide and 16 metres deep.

City financial statements show it paid more than $8.8 million to Chevron, Imperial Oil, Petro-Canada and Shell in 2009.

Bob Mackin writes for 24 Hours. This article first appeared here.

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