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B.C. to respond to gaps in oil spill safety in coming months

In 2005 about 800,000 litres of bunker sea crude oil was spilled into Lake Wabamun, Alberta after a CN train derailment.

Ian Jackson/Bull Purdy

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake says key gaps must be filled in B.C.'s emergency response plan before the government allows oil and other hazardous materials to criss-cross the province.

Wrapping up a three-day symposium on land-based spill prevention and response in Vancouver, Lake says there are still overlaps and gaps between jurisdictions in the wake of expanding trade to Asia.

Lake says B.C. will need widespread collaboration and co-operation to ensure environmental protection and economic development go hand in hand as pipeline and other projects are proposed.

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The minister says a working group will meet in the coming months to establish a framework for new legislation on safety and the transport of hazardous materials.

While Lake said the framework won't be aimed at any one group or project, the proposal for the Northern Gateway pipeline has created friction between business, governments, environmentalists and First Nations.

The symposium was attended by emergency-response experts in Canada and the United States, government officials, environmental groups, business and First Nations leaders.

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