Kitimat ocean program set for oil tankers

Green MLA says ocean monitoring plan shows Ottawa intent on oil exports to Asia 'come hell or high water'

A crude oil tanker is escorted by tugboats out of Second Narrows. Pipeline proposals are being considered to increase heavy oil exports from Vancouver and Kitimat.

A little-noticed federal ocean monitoring program around Kitimat is the clearest signal yet that the federal government is preparing the region for crude oil tanker traffic, Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver says.

Weaver was catching up on his scientific reading after the B.C. election when he stumbled on a line – “almost a throwaway” – in the April issue of Canadian Ocean Science Newsletter.

“A major initiative in planning is the complementary measures project for the area surrounding Kitimat British Columbia to support planned oil traffic,” it says.

Government scientists who developed the system in the Gulf of St. Lawrence say it is to help “search and rescue, oil spill response and to ensure safe and navigable waterways.”

Weaver said the project goes well beyond research, and represents a major ongoing budget commitment by Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to forecast ocean conditions for oil tanker traffic.

“My conclusion is, come hell or high water, the intention of the feds right now is to ship bitumen to Asia through Kitimat,” Weaver said in an interview. “Whether it be through rail or through pipeline, it’s going to happen, and I don’t think that British Columbians are getting the whole picture here.”

Environment Canada spokesman Mark Johnson issued a statement confirming the program was funded in the 2012 federal budget, under the government’s “responsible resource development” initiative.

Its purpose is to “to improve the scientific understanding of diluted bitumen products and to improve operational capabilities to provide timely scientific assessment in the event of an oil spill.

“The Government of Canada is increasing research into non-conventional petroleum products to fortify Canada’s marine prevention, preparedness and response capabilities.

“In terms of ocean forecasting, Environment Canada Meteorological Service of Canada will bring specific contributions to this overall goal in the provision of high-resolution surface winds forecasts along the complex waterways from Kitimat to Hecate Strait area, as winds play an important role as input to oil spill modelling assessment.”

A federal assessment panel is preparing recommendations for the federal cabinet on the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would deliver diluted bitumen from Alberta to the Kitimat port.

Weaver said Ottawa’s apparent rush to export heavy crude increases the pollution risk on land and ocean, and also works against development of a petrochemical industry in Canada.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clinton RCMP seek assistance in Canoe Creek hit and run

A pedestrian was sent to hospital with serious injuries after vehicle failed to stop

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Hungry hawk versus reluctant rattler showdown caught on camera

Not the first time photographer was in right place at right time to document an unusual encounter

Evacuation Alert issued for properties in Cache Creek

Low-lying properties adjacent to Bonaparte River, and east of Collins Road, affected

Cache Creek council plans live stream budget meeting for May 21

News from Cache Creek council’s May 11 meeting

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read