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Crown Eco Capital Blog Management - "World Class" Oil Spill


Two officials of British Columbia's Raincoast Conservation Society have gutted Joe Oliver's assurances and exposed Sideshow Steve Harper's "world class" oil spill mechanisms as an utter sham.
Misty MacDuffee and Chris Genovali, writing in the Toronto Star, shred Oliver and Harper's empty promises.
The reality is that human nature and physical nature are the forces that produce tragedies at sea. Unforeseen events that inevitably occur in narrow channels, high-traffic corridors and bad weather increase the risk of oil tanker accidents on B.C.ās coast. Major oil spills show that despite assurances of low risk and advanced technology, poor decisions still lead to major incidents. 
Groundings, collisions, equipment failures and explosions are all cited as causes for accidents, but these are consequences, not causes. Root causes of incidents are more insidious, with human error, cost-cutting and miscommunication foremost among them. Lost in all the ministerās warm and fuzzy rhetoric about increased tanker inspections, tanker safety panels and new navigational aids is the fact that human failures account for up to 80 per cent of the worldās oil spills. Underscoring the fact there is no accounting for human error, B.C.ās largest oil spill response vessel ran aground en route to Oliverās news conference last month.
 Oliverās announcement is viewed by many as nothing more than empty pandering to the legitimate concerns of British Columbians as the phrase āworld-class oil spill response and preventionā is a meaningless platitude. There is no such thing as world-class oil spill response and prevention. The existing yardstick is wholly inadequate as estimates of open-water recovery by mechanical equipment recover only 10 to 15 per cent of the oil from a marine spill at best.
As we have learned from previous spills, no response is possible in rough weather, high seas and dangerous conditions. Importantly, these conditions often precede, or follow, oil spills. Pumping and skimming recovery options are impossible in over one knot of tide or in waves over two to three metres. In rough conditions or offshore spills, response is limited to the use of dispersants, as containment is not an option. Dispersants have proven to be largely unsuccessful on water-in-oil emulsions and on oil that has weathered, and will not likely be successful on bitumen. Furthermore, reliable knowledge regarding the extent of dispersant toxicity is lacking.
 The Canadian coast guard has also identified uncertainty around the effectiveness of spill recovery with the products that Enbridge plans to transport. In its submission to the joint review panel assessing Northern Gateway, the coast guard stated it was ānot aware of a scientific consensus regarding how these products will behave once introduced into the marine environment or the effects over time of the products being in the water. The Canadian coast guard therefore is uncertain whether or not traditional oil spill recovery methods would be effective.ā
The coast guardās fear that bitumen could submerge or sink has recently been reinforced by top Canadian and U.S. chemical scientists. But this would not be the only impact of a diluted bitumen spill. If a slick hits the water, it would immediately release dangerous components that are acutely toxic to fish and animals. Currently, no technology can recover those volatile diluents. The bottom line on the B.C. coast, as has been shown elsewhere, is that having the ability to respond does not necessarily translate into effective cleanup of an oil spill.
What is especially telling is that Oliver's photo-op/press conference on Vancouver's waterfront should have been the perfect opportunity for him to address each of these concerns.   They're not new and they go straight to the heart of the Harper/Enbridge/Redford initiative.   Yet he ducked each and every one of them and instead prattled on with nonsense aimed to target drylanders to make them believe the government has the real concerns, the one he won't address, under control.
jonahkebbles Uploaded 04/09/2013
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