Dogwood reacts to B.C. government’s report on oil spill response

VICTORIA – The Province of B.C. released a study today outlining “necessary improvements to achieve a world-class system to ensure B.C.’s coast is protected from marine oil spills.”

Eric Swanson, Dogwood Initiative campaign director, said this in response:

“I 100 per cent agree with the premier that we need improvements to deal with existing traffic. These proposed heavy oil mega projects, however, pose significantly increased risks due to the nature of bitumen and the massive increase in volume. The phrase ‘world-class’ sounds nice, but when looking at Kinder Morgan’s or Enbridge’s proposals we need to start with the bald truth that for many oil spills there’s simply nothing you can do.

“The B.C. government’s final argument to the joint review panel assessing Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway project noted that in many scenarios effective oil spill response would be ‘impossible or severely constrained.'”

Studies that determine how often effective oil spill response is even possible are called response gap analyses.

Nuka Research and Planning Group, the same company that authored the study released today, conducted a response gap analysis for B.C.’s north coast on behalf of the Haisla Nation in 2012. The findings of that report, which included the many scenarios where effective oil spill response would be impossible, were not included in today’s report.

“The question at the heart of the premier’s oil spill conditions is how often effective response is even possible, given the volatile conditions on our coast. The company that wrote today’s report has already calculated those numbers, so why aren’t they here?

“The premier wants to be open to new heavy oil projects, I get it. But her own government has acknowledged that effective oil spill response is impossible up to 68 per cent of the time. Until she’s honest with British Columbians about that, phrases like ‘world-class’ are meaningless.”

Contact:
Eric Swanson, No Tankers Campaign Director, 250-858-9990

Background:

  • Today’s study acknowledges “a response gap analysis would provide additional information about the potential limits of weather and environmental factors to spill response at various sites along the B.C. Coast.”
  • The response gap analysis prepared for the Haisla Nation can be found here: http://www.tc.gc.ca/media/documents/mosprr/Haisla_Nation_Council_Nuka_Report.pdf
  • Page 17 of the above analysis includes a chart that illustrates the combination of conditions that would prevent effective oil spill response. At time of writing, Environment Canada’s buoy in Dixon Entrance reports wave heights of 3.7 metres, which, according to this Nuka Research and Planning chart, would make oil spill response impossible.
  • The Province’s final argument rejecting Enbridge’s project can be found here: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/main/docs/2013/BC-Submission-to-NGP-JointReviewPanel_130531.pdf

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