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Clark's five conditions can't be met

October 10, 2013
Province’s oil spill preparedness report confirms that oil spills can’t be cleaned up with today’s technology

VANCOUVER—Living Oceans welcomes the report of Nuka Research into Canada’s ability to prevent or deal with an oil spill off the west coast of British Columbia, released today by the B.C. Government. The report confirms the evidence submitted by Living Oceans to the Joint Review Panel assessing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal, confirming yet again that B.C. Premier Christy Clark’s threshold conditions for approval cannot be met.

“The province made its position clear before the Joint Review Panel,” said Karen Wristen, Living Oceans’ Executive Director. “The goal of a preparedness regime is ‘effective’ response to oil spills. This report confirms our submission that, not only is Canada woefully unprepared to handle oil spills, but the world’s best oil spill response technology is incapable of dealing with a spill of diluted bitumen once it submerges or sinks.”

Premier Clark’s five conditions for pipeline development were elaborated in the Province’s submission to the Joint Review Panel, which argued that effective oil spill response would be impossible in some scenarios and extremely difficult in others. The technology to deal with submerged and sinking oils has not been invented.

“This report makes it clear: Canada doesn’t even have a plan for dealing with West Coast oil spills, much less a trained and equipped work force to respond to them,” said Wristen. “The fact is that it will take many years, an invention or two and many millions of dollars to bring us to the point where we could deal with a spill in reasonably good weather. On a bad day on the North Coast, it will never be possible.”

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Contact Information

Karen Wristen
Executive Director
Living Oceans Society
Mobile: 604-788-5634

Background

Living Oceans was granted intervenor status in the Joint Review Panel hearings for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and Tanker project. Some of the evidence we submitted to that panel is referenced in the Nuka Research report.

Findings of note from the Nuka Research report:
Among the 38 preparedness measures evaluated by the report (to all but one of which the report assigns a failing grade), the following are of particular note:

Accident prevention

Finding: In 2010, deficiencies were found in 40 percent of foreign vessels inspected in Canada. (Vol.3, p. 15)

Finding: There is an insufficient number of trained pilots to accompany projected levels of tanker traffic in waterways at significant risk for tanker accidents. (Vol.3, p. 20)

Finding: There are no dedicated rescue or salvage tugs available on the north coast of B.C. (Vol.3, p.23, 24)

Finding: There are no places identified where tankers could shelter in the event of bad weather. (Vol. 3, p. 26)

Oil Spill Response

Finding: There is no plan. (Vol. 3, p. 33)

Finding: When a spill occurs, there will be no-one who knows how to prioritize what resources to protect. Response efforts will be guided initially only by the owner of the ship. (Vol.3, p. 27)

Finding: We have no capacity to respond to a worst-case scenario spill. (Vol.3, p. 37)

Finding: In some places on the coast, wind, weather and wave height conditions would make it impossible to respond to an oil spill for as much as 45 percent of the time. At other times, response measures would be of limited effectiveness. (Vol. 3, p. 39)