Thursday, February 20, 2014

Waters off Prince Rupert and Kitimat destined for more environmental surveillance

Aircraft from the National Surveillance Program
North Coast residents may soon see  more frequent appearances of that bright red Transport Canada plane over the skies of the region, with an announcement from Wednesday regarding aerial surveillance for Coast British Columbia.

The Federal Government is making plans to increase funding for marine pollution surveillance, another part of their efforts towards preparations with the prospect of increased shipments out of the North Coast.

Wednesday's announcement outlined how funding allocations are set to double over the next five years, with Transport Minister Lisa Raitt  explaining that funding for the aerial surveillance program will increase from the current level of 5 million dollars a year, to ten million dollars.

“Our government has zero tolerance towards polluting Canada’s marine environment. That is why we have doubled the funding for surveillance and monitoring of ships to detect pollution in Canada’s waters.” 

 “Tanker traffic has increased, and through our government’s plan for Responsible Resource Development, we are ensuring the safe and reliable transport of energy resources through our waterways.” --- Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport on the increase to funding for the aerial environmental surveillance program

The program which makes use surveillance aircraft will see air time expanded on the West Coast, with a two stage approach that will see planes in the air for 700 hours per year until 2017-18, at that time the hours will almost double to 1,200 hours in the air per year.

A significant increase in the work load for the one surveillance plane that is currently tasked for British Columbia and the North Coast, a region that Minister Raitt indicated will now receive much more attention.

The move by the Federal Government did not offer up much comfort to those that oppose such projects as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the plan which would see Alberta crude oil shipped out of Kitimat.

Project opponents suggest that the best environmental program, would be one that does not involve the shipment of bitumen through the waters of the North Coast. With Art Sterritt of the Coastal First Nations calling the announcement of Wednesday as window dressing.

The full text of the announcement can be found from Transport Canada website.

more on the National Aerial Surveillance Program can be found here.

CBC-- Aerial Surveillance to monitor oil spills in B. C.
Victoria Times Colonist-- Ottawa boosts ship surveillance
Global News-- Federal Government doubles funding for aerial water pollution surveillance
CTV News-- Ottawa to double spending on marine pollution surveillance off Canadian Coasts
Globe and Mail-- Ottawa aims to calm fears over oil-tanker safety
Global Post-- Ottawa woos oil export support with spending on ship pollution surveillance

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