How to track tankers

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Our local MP, Kennedy Stewart, said something rather alarming about tankers at a June 27 meeting hosted by Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder Morgan Expansion. In Burrard Inlet, Port Metro Vancouver is responsible for overseeing the passage of tankers, which are pulled by tug boats to make the journey safer.

At the meeting, Stewart told the audience that his office has received reports of tankers travelling in the Burrard Inlet with no tug escorts.

I called Port Metro Vancouver to check, and they confirmed that it’s sometimes true – when the tankers are empty.

Tug escorts are only used for tankers after they are filled with crude at Kinder Morgan’s Westridge Marine Terminal in north Burnaby.

I also asked the port how people on shore can tell the difference between a tanker and a ship transporting grain, for example, and I was told unless you have a trained eye and can clearly see the apparatus on the ship, it’s very difficult to tell. That’s when Port Metro Vancouver mentioned this very handy interactive map on their website. The map shows which ships are in the inlet and what they are doing.

You have to download an application to use the map, which doesn’t take long. The map shows blue icons for the various ships in and around the Vancouver harbour, and if you hover over the icons, you can see what kind of vessel it is. To check out the map, go the Port Metro Vancouver website.