The tug boat Nathan E. Stewart is seen in the waters of the Seaforth Channel near Bella Bella, B.C., in an October 23, 2016. (photo THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk First Nation, April Bencze)

B.C. First Nation’s group using ads in Texas targeting company for fuel spill

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

“Does Kirby care?” is the question that is being posed to readers from Houston, Texas in their newspaper and on social media after the Heiltsuk Nation bought ads to fight the tank barge operators.

The Heiltsuk Nation are continuing the fight against Texas-based Kirby Corp. after the company was fined $2.9 million on Tuesday for an oil spill contaminating the First Nation’s fishing territory.

READ MORE: U.S. firm fined $2.9M for fuel spill that soiled B.C. First Nation territory

In Oct. 2016, the Nathan E. Stewart spilled 110,000 litres of diesel and heavy oils. Chief Marilyn Slett of the Heiltsuk Nation said the incident affected 25 species harvested for sustenance by the community.

“Does Kirby care about our community which is a coastal community that has relied on the coast for substance? Does Kirby care that there’s contamination and we are no longer able to harvest? Does Kirby care that 40 to 50 families in the commercial clam fishery are affected a year? Does Kirby care that no environmental impact assessment has been carried out and he will not move forward with one? Does Kirby care that we are spending our resources, as a small community, in court as a last resort?,” Slett said.

READ MORE: North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

The newspaper ads in the Houston Chronicle and the geo-targeted social media ads direct readers to a website with an open letter signed by Sleet calling on David Grzebinski, Kirby Corp’s CEO, to do the right thing. Anyone can sign their name to the Heiltsuk Nation’s letter.

“We both know this sentence does not represent true justice. True justice would mean paying for an environmental impact assessment, admitting civil liability, and working openly and honestly to address compensation and remediation for the harm caused by the spill,” Slett wrote in the open letter

“You should work with us to help reform antiquated marine pollution compensation laws, rather than hiding behind them.”

The company pled guilty and was charged with one count under the Fisheries Act, for which they were fined $2.7 million; the Migratory Birds Convention Act, for which they were fined $200,000; and the Pilotage Act, resulting in a fine of $5,000.

Sleet said the fines imposed are not part of the civil suit the Heiltsuk Nation launched against the company back in Oct. 2018. She said they do not cover the cultural losses, costs for an environmental impact assessment and remediation for their territory, which she says has been polluted.

READ MORE: Heiltsuk Nation sues B.C., feds, owner of tug that spilled 100K litres of diesel

The fines imposed from Tuesday’s ruling will be put into an environment fund which Slett says the nation will have to apply for, and there is no guarantee they will fit the criteria or receive any compensation.

“We are a maritime community that has lived in our territory for 700 generations and survived because we had a healthy ocean. It is part of our survival and the spill had a detrimental effect,” said Slett.

To date, Kirby Corp. has not made a response to the ads.


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre hosts last workshop of the summer

Find out how you can support the Community Arts Council through COVID-19

EDITORIAL: Connect the Quays a key concept for tourism

Pathway could be a tourism gem for City of Port Alberni

Port Alberni artist pens dystopian novel

Haven Hold by Shelley Penner is set to debut on August 25

Volunteer rescuers train for helicopter exits at Alberni Valley Regional Airport

More technical rescues mean Alberni Valley Rescue Squad members must keep up specialized skills

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Man accused of killing Red Deer doctor says he does not remember attack

Appearing before a judge, Deng Mabiour, 54, rambled about being sick and needing a doctor

Teen killer Kelly Ellard gets day parole extension, allowing up to 5 days at home

Ellard is serving a life sentence for the 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk

Andrew Scheer likely marking last day in House of Commons as Opposition leader

Today’s Commons sitting is one of two scheduled for August

Deaths feared after train derails amid storms in Scotland

Stonehaven is on the line for passenger trains linking Aberdeen with the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Most Read