Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Groups call Enbridge's spill response plan an insult in wake of BP Gulf anniversary

April 20, 2011
Standard methods from BP disaster recycled in Enbridge oil spill response plan

Vancouver, B.C. – Enbridge is attempting to dampen mounting opposition to their Northern Gateway proposal by reassuring Canadians that they will use “state of the art” technology in an oil spill cleanup – even though there has been no improvement to those same ineffective methods which were used by BP in the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe one year ago today.

Enbridge’s recently released General Oil Spill Response Plan proposes using conventional spill response equipment such as booms and dispersants, which have failed in overall cleanup and environmental protection in the Gulf disaster. Fishermen and coastal communities are still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the record 4.9 million barrel oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Enbridge’s plan offers no reason to believe that it could deal any better with an oil spill on Canada’s Pacific North Coast.

“On the anniversary of the BP Gulf disaster, Enbridge’s spill response plan is an insult to the communities at risk,” says Nikki Skuce of ForestEthics.

Oil spill containment booms are known to fail in strong currents and large waves – both of which are prominent characteristics of Canada’s Pacific North Coast waterways. Oil simply washes above or below the booms when water conditions are not calm. Wind and fog further complicate oil spill response capabilities.

Enbridge also proposes using highly toxic chemical oil dispersants – the same kind that BP deployed above and below the water of the Gulf to try to dissipate oil slicks. Dispersant effectiveness has not been demonstrated in cold waters, on viscous heavy oil such as tar sands crude, nor has it been shown to minimize oil spill effects on the environment.

“There is nothing state-of-the-art about Enbridge’s empty promises,” says Katie Terhune of Living Oceans Society. “They have shown no proof that they can clean up an oil tanker spill.”

Enbridge’s response plan also includes doing nothing (“natural recovery”) and gauging media attention to determine how and if they will respond.

“Just like BP, Enbridge has no adequate plan or appropriate technology to deal with oil spills across the proposed pipeline and tanker routes. We need to stop Northern Gateway before we face the same fate as those suffering in Louisiana,” says Skuce.

Enbridge will not be releasing more detailed operational plans until six months prior to project commissioning, which will only happen if the project is approved by a federally appointed review panel. “By then it will be too late for the panel to review and make an informed decision on the validity of Enbridge’s oil spill response plans,” said Terhune.


Contact Information

Nikki Skuce, Senior Energy Campaigner, ForestEthics 250-877-7762

Katie Terhune, Energy Campaigner, Living Oceans Society 250-973-6580