Province not effectively managing hazardous spills, says B.C.'s auditor general

Not managing spills: audit

British Columbia's auditor general says the Ministry of Environment is not effectively managing hazardous spills in the province, using a decade-old response plan and data that is not easily accessible.

A report from auditor general Michael Pickup says the government didn't consistently notify First Nations communities of hazardous spills, and millions of dollars owed to the province haven't been recovered from those responsible.

Pickup says in a statement that the ministry responds appropriately to high-risk incidents, "but effective management is more than that" when it comes to the thousands of spills reported every year.

The report makes nine recommendations, including that the province update the plans it uses to co-ordinate a response to major spills, and improve the effectiveness of its cost-recovery process.

His report says from April 2016 to February 2023, approximately $900,000 of spill-related costs were recovered, while about $13.9 million remains outstanding, almost entirely from the bankrupt Neucel pulp mill site on Vancouver Island

The ministry has accepted all nine of the recommendations and Minister George Heyman says they align with what was learned in a review of emergency-response plans that began last year.


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