VANCOUVER -- Greenpeace Canada says the explosion of an oil tanker off the west coast of Japan could foreshadow a similar accident on this side of the Pacific should the Northern Gateway Pipeline be approved.
Japanese news agency NHK reported the 998-ton Shoko Maru caught fire after an explosion five kilometres off the country's coast.
NHK reported the captain is missing, but seven of the eight crew members were rescued and most are in hospital.
Mike Hudema of Greenpeace Canada said that while the organization's thoughts are with the crew's family, the accident itself can't be ignored.
"It's a very clear warning sign of the dangers that tankers pose and a reminder that accidents and these types of incidents can and will happen," Hudema said. "The federal government is considering approving the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which would bring hundreds of these supertankers up and down the coast of B.C. and the threats that come with them."
Hudema said if something happened off B.C.'s coast the damage could be catastrophic for people and the environment, including economies that rely on a clean coastline.
The National Energy Board is expected to make a ruling on the pipeline project this year.
The pipeline would carry bitumen oil from Alberta to Kitimat, B.C.