Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Federal Government floats its tanker strategy for consideration

With an eye on the ongoing discussions of the Enbridge Joint Review Panel, the Federal Government has offered up some transportation points for consideration, outlining it's thoughts on proposed tanker safeguards for British Columbia's coastal waters.

The Announcement of the Federal proposals for "World Class Tanker Safety" and some background on the current regulations in place, come as there is much discussion on the future prospects of development on the North Coast.

With LNG proposals popping up with increasing frequency, the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project which is currently in the Review process and the latest concept for an oil refinery for Kitimat, the waters of the north coast would seem destined to become just a little more congested in the years to come.

Kitimat in particular is receiving  a fair amount of interest from the press release of Monday, key to their future aspirations, the note of public port designation for their growing terminal plans.

The announcement of Monday adds amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001

Among them:

Strengthen the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil handling facilities 

Increase Transport Canada's oversight and enforcement capacity by equipping marine safety inspectors with the tools to enforce compliance 

Introduce new offences for contraventions of the Act and extend penalties relating to pollution 

Enhance response to oil spill incidents by removing legal barriers that could otherwise block agents of Canadian response organizations from participating in clean-up operations

The Government also announced eight further measures to strengthen the tanker Safety System in Canadian waters, including:

Tanker inspections: The number of inspections will increase to ensure that all foreign tankers are inspected on their first visit to Canada, and annually thereafter, to ensure they comply with rules and regulations, especially with respect to double hulls. 

Systematic surveillance and monitoring of ships: The government will expand the National Aerial Surveillance Program. 

Incident Command System:  The government will establish a Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Incident Command System, which will allow it to respond more effectively to an incident and integrate its operations with key partners. 

Pilotage programs: We will review existing pilotage and tug escort requirements to see what more will be needed in the future. 

Public port designations: More ports will be designated for traffic control measures, starting with Kitimat. 

Scientific research: The government will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment. 

New and modified aids to navigation: The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes is installed and maintained. 

Modern navigation system: The CCG will develop options for enhancing Canada's current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013 for government consideration.

The reaction to the Government's announcement has been rather swift from opponents, with many suggesting it is just "window dressing", or the currently popular theme of   "greenwashing".

The Dogwood Initiative offered up the start of the push back towards the Federal plans with a number of video presentations, similar to the one featured below.
Some of the reviews to Monday's announcement can be found below:

CBC Daybreak North-- Minister says government is making a safe system safer with tanker rules
CBC-- 'World Class' tanker safety system announced by federal government
The Northern View-- Cullen calls oil spill response plan 'greenwashing'
CFTK-- Oliver Energy Envoy (video)
CFTK-- Reaction Mixed to New Tanker Safety Measures Announced by Ottawa
CFTK-- Federal Government Announces Tanker Safety Legislation
Globe and Mail-- Ottawa tightens tanker safety with $120 million plan
Vancouver Sun-- Oil spill defence plan derided by critics as PR ruse
Vancouver Sun-- Federal Tanker regulations win support from B. C.'s marine-shipping industry, criticism from environmentalists
Vancouver Sun-- Harper Government plans 'world-class' system to address oil spill fears
Vancouver Sun-- More inspections, tougher pollution penalties for B.C. oil tanker traffic
CTV BC-- Feds bump up oil tanker safety measures
Vancouver Observer-- New federal oil spill plan announced but enviros not impressed
The Tyee-- More inspections, tougher pollution penalties for oil tanker traffic
24 Hours Vancouver--  Tanker safety measures aim for local support
BC Shipping News-- Federal Government Announces new initiatives to strengthen Canada's spill response regime
CKNW-- Enbridge: It's own worst enemy

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