"world class" oil spill programme to mollify our concerns about a tanker disaster on the west coast.
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis
Lebel will be in B.C. to provide details of a long-term funding
commitment to the National Aerial Surveillance Program, first
established in 1991, as well as new funding measures to “enhance” the
program’s coverage, especially along the northern B.C. coast.
The ministers will also announce a more rigorous tanker inspection
program as well as the creation of a “Tanker Safety Expert Panel.”
The Harper government has made no secret that one of its top priorities
is to ensure that Canada’s oilsands sector has access to Asian markets
for Alberta’s diluted bitumen crude.
But two proposals to accomplish that objective — Enbridge’s Northern
Gateway pipeline project to Kitimat, and Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin
its existing pipeline from the Edmonton area to Burnaby — have been
One of the key public worries is the risk of a major oil spill.
Monday’s announcement is aimed at public concerns about the risk of a
spill similar to the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the Alaskan coast.
The federal source noted that Canada already has a strong spill prevention system and has never experienced a major incident.
However, it can always be better, he said.
A key component of the strategy is to “enhance” the National Aerial
Surveillance Program, which has three aircraft — including one in
Vancouver — engaged in monitoring shipping activities and watching for
The ministers will also announce changes to the existing tanker
inspection system. All Canadian tankers are now inspected manually,
while foreign-flagged vessels are inspected on their first visit and
then subjected to follow-ups for tankers who come regularly to Canada.
From now on, all foreign vessels will get the same treatment as Canadian ships, with required annual inspections.
The final component is the creation of a Tanker Safety Expert Panel
that will be asked to review the current system and come up with new
suggestions to ensure Canada meets the “world class” test.
In a word, this is "bullshit." It doesn't begin to address the key dangers of notoriously bad weather and lethal currents, the many ways that ships go out of control from mechanical or human failure, the fact that bitumen doesn't float it sinks and that, once congealed in BC's cold coastal waters it can never be siphoned up, the fact that the supposed oil spill recovery vessels can't operate in BC's typically rough seas or any of the problems associated with transporting bitumen across the seismically active and inaccessible British Columbia interior.
We don't need a Tanker Safety Expert Panel. That job was done years ago by the top guys in the Canadian and United States Coast Guards when they initially formulated the West Coast Tanker Exclusion Zone that Harper and Enbridge are determined to ignore.
This is, in all respects, an admission that the Harper government has no answers for the challenges it needs to address and so, in default of that, tries to cover up its failures with window dressing. It won't sell here but I'm sure it will sound just dandy to dimwits east of British Columbia.