EDITORIAL: Black mark

Accidents happen, the saying goes.

And as Wednesday’s oil spill in English Bay amply demonstrated, accidents also happen in shipping.

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The oil spill that washed up on Vancouver beaches Thursday can’t be described as massive or catastrophic. And thousands of ships come and go without a crisis.

But it is bad. And it is instructive.

A number of the black marks left behind won’t be from the goopy, tarry mess left on rocks or dabbled in by birds — they’ll be from questions that were still unanswered a day after the spill was first noticed.

Chief among those is why it took about 12 hours for all relevant authorities and the public to be told that a spill had even happened.

And that has left a bad taste in a lot of mouths around here.

When accidents happen, people expect to be told. It also makes pragmatic sense to do so — when information is shared, everyone can be better prepared.

By Thursday afternoon, a surprising number of facts were still in the “don’t know, can’t say” category.

Those included what type of oil was spilled and how it happened. We’re not pressing the panic button yet but it was disconcerting to see how long it took for the response to be mounted and for facts to be available.

Also notable was a deafening silence from federal and provincial political leaders, who clearly recognize a no-win situation when they see it.

If this is an example of our alleged “world-leading” spill response, we have reason to be concerned.

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© North Shore News

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