oil spill

Canada’s Tanker Safety Expert Panel has revealed a report aiming to improve the nation’s system for ship-source oil spill preparedness and response in order to better protect the public and the environment.

The report comprises of 45 recommendations, including ensuring companies prepare for a worst-case scenario and new guarantees that taxpayers will not be liable for costs related to spills in Canadian waters.

Regulators are also considering proposals from Enbridge and Kinder Morgan for the construction of pipelines to carry oil from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, which are expected to increase the tankers per year in the region by 600.

The new ship-source oil spill rule is part of the federal government’s commitment to reassure citizens that it has prepared for the extra traffic, while the policy would respond to major spills.

Currently, the company which causes the spill is liable to pay for the entire cost of a clean-up, while the government would invest to compensate for damage done due to pollution from the accident that is limited to a certain extent.

A panel has urged the government in the report to remove the limit and use a emergency account, which is funded by industry, which should be created to pay only when Canada’s Coast Guard is called in to lead a clean-up mission.

The panel also suggested the federal government offer flexibility in response techniques and manage the spill response on a regional basis, using specific procedures made for particular geographies and environments.

Canada natural resources minister Joe Oliver said: "If Canadians are to benefit from this resource potential, market diversification is essential and that means moving our resources to tide waters and onto tankers to transport them to an energy hungry world."

Canada Transportation minister Lisa Raitt said the government has already taken steps to better monitor ships moving through the country’s waters and would take all necessary actions to avoid any spills in the first place.

"We will make sure that the apparatus is there to help clean them up, should they have happen, and we will ensure that polluters pay," Raitt added.

According to authorities, the report made 45 clear recommendations and the government has not yet committed to put any of them in place. Canada is one of the largest producers of crude oil, which is exported to the US.

Due to the heavy traffic in current pipelines the crude is getting stranded in landlocked Alberta – to solve this the country is planning to construct new pipeline to the West Coast that would also serve export markets in Asia.

The government’s plan is opposed by environmentalists, who say the pipeline could cause a devastating spill.

Image: An oily substance due to pollution or a spill. Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.