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

Township looks at ‘next possible steps’ to re-open Walnut Grove pool to competition

Review is only an update, not ‘prescriptive,’ mayor Froese cautioned

Falling tree claims life in Langley

Victim was reportedly out for a walk on a rural road

Fort Langley artists extend traditional season on virtual gallery

Group’s latest exhibition is a seasonally themed show called Autumn Bounty

QUIZ: Do you know what’s on TV?

Fall is normally the time when new television shows are released

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

Most Read