VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Environmental groups are warning about a big bill in the event of an oil spill in BC.

Taxpayers could face billions of dollars in costs, unless changes are made.

The groups say a major spill could cost $10 billion or more, but insurance would only cover a tenth of that, leaving the rest of the cost to taxpayers.

Brenda Belak with West Coast Environmental Law says it’s a simple message. “There is not enough money available through existing insurance regimes to clean up a medium to a large spill.”

The BC government says it’s working on a polluter pay system as part of an overhaul of policies.

The environmental groups are also concerned about the increased risk of a spill created by planned expansion.

Christianne Wilhelmson of the Georgia Strait Alliance says a spill could affect the core of the province’s economy.

“We have thousands of species that exist here, and many exist nowhere else. In addition, we have over three million people who live in and around the Strait of Georgia. This is where the majority of British Columbians live, work, and play. This is where the heart of our economy is truly based.”