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

Highway 23 North to see construction delays starting this week

BC Hydro is working on a slope stabilization project near Revelstoke Dam

Tim Hortons serves up a thank you to front-line workers

On May 21 the Tim Hortons coffee truck came through Revelstoke

City of Revelstoke expects to stay on budget with $1.5 million roadworks project

Pavement, deep utility maintenance and sidewalks are in the plan for the Lowertown area

Revelstoke schools reopen

The Superintendent said 80 per cent of elementary and 40 per cent of high school students returned

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Vernon videographer captures thunderstorm

See the ‘best bits’ of Saturday’s storm

Most Read