Under intense criticism from the B.C. premier for what she called the "totally unacceptable" federal response to the toxic spill in Vancouver's English Bay, the government's Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford responded by calling Premier Christy Clark's response "premature."

In an interview on CBC Radio's The House, Rickford echoed fellow cabinet minister James Moore's comments and defended the federal government's response to the spill, saying the situation is "well in hand and well under control. " He also commended what he called the Canada's "world class" safety system, 

That contradicts Clark's brutal assessment of the response on Friday where she complained about the 6-hour delay in deploying booms to contain the toxic spill and the 12-hour delay to notify the city of Vancouver. She wants the federal government to relinquish responsibility for emergency response to the province and linked the spill to the controversial pipeline debate.

"There won't be any expansion of heavy oil movement out of this port or any other port in B.C. until we get world class spill response, period,"  Clarke said.

Minister Rickford tried to separate the spill from the debate about new pipelines, saying "we are talking about two different issues."

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was also very critical of the federal response to the spill. He called the efforts of both Ottawa and the province "totally inadequate."