Map shows area of computer models simulating crude oil spills that could result from existing tanker traffic.

Gaps wide in oil spill scenarios

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent

VICTORIA – The B.C. environment ministry has released its promised study of the current state of crude oil spill response capability, tracking the growing tonnage of petroleum shipping along the West Coast and estimating response time and effectiveness if oil was to spill at sea.

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent for Alaska crude, with another quarter evaporating.

The study was commissioned to back up Premier Christy Clark’s conditions for B.C.’s approval of expanded heavy oil shipments, either from twinning the TransMountain pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby, or the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project across northern B.C. to a new tanker port at Kitimat.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the study shows the need to increase response capability before the B.C. government would consider increased oil shipments.

“While we respect federal jurisdiction over marine spills, we must ensure B.C.’s interests are being met, and that means adding more resources to protect our coast,” Polak said.

The three-volume report also details the huge and growing traffic that exists now.

Shipping data show a 17 per cent increase in marine traffic volume from 2011 to 2012. An estimated 110 million cubic metres of petroleum products per year are shipped, about a third of which is crude-like bunker oil carried as fuel on ships of all kinds. The biggest tanker cargo is 38 million cubic metres of mostly Alaska crude a year.

The study includes recovery estimates for seven oil spill scenarios, six of which assumed a spill of Alaska North Slope crude that has been shipped by tankers down the B.C. coast to U.S. refineries since the 1970s. Two scenarios involve an Alaska crude spill in Dixon Entrance, with four per cent recovery in summer an three per cent in winter.

One scenario examines a summer-time spill of diluted bitumen in the Juan de Fuca Strait, with response from Canadian and U.S. ships and oil recovery equipment. It estimated 31 per cent oil recovery after five days, in summer conditions with daylight-only operations.

Tanker shipments from Kinder Morgan Canada’s Burnaby terminal hit a high of 69 in 2010. some of which were diluted bitumen. The expansion would mean 300 tankers a year in and out of Vancouver harbour.

The federal government has launched its own research project to model the drift and behaviour of a bitumen spill in the ocean around Kitimat, and funded marine weather forecasting to facilitate shipping.

 

Just Posted

B.C. Interior free from measles

Vancouver measles outbreak hasn’t spread to the B.C. Interior

Input sought from Cache Creek businesses on Downtown Vision plan

Attracting and retaining employees and businesses are priorities

Community Futures gets more funding to continue business support program

Programs such as Business Ambassadors help small businesses, not-for-profits, and First Nations

Make Children First’s CareFairs are going out with a bang

Folllowing changes to funding, upcoming CareFairs in the region will be the last ones ever held

Support available for those looking after loved ones with dementia

Despite the growing number of people with dementia, a stigma still surrounds it

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Most Read