Northern Gateway will put in place a comprehensive, world-class marine safety program for this project, including:
Over the past 25 years, more than 1,500 ships have safely travelled in and out of Kitimat, 250 tankers (50 to 60 of which are crude oil tankers) call annually at the port of Vancouver, and many more trade in Eastern Canada, and worldwide.
Some suggest that there is an existing “moratorium on tanker traffic.” But the fact is that in 2005 the former Transport Minister Jean Lapierre confirmed in writing that there is no moratorium on tanker traffic on the coast of British Columbia.
In 2009, Port Metro Vancouver welcomed 2,791 vessel calls. Of those, 255 were tanker vessels which moved 8 million tonnes (approx. 55 million barrels) of oil from Vancouver, of which 4 million tonnes (approx 25 million barrels) were crude oil.
Natural Resources Canada notes that with regards to petroleum products, because of their connection via major waterways, “Atlantic Canada and Quebec have good access to imports from the northeastern U.S. and Europe. As a result, there are a number of major independent marketers who import petroleum products into Montreal for sale in the Quebec and Ontario markets.”
According to Transport Canada in 2006, with the longest coastline of any single country in the world, Canada sees about 20,000 oil tanker movements each year. Of these, 17,000 occur on Canada's east coast. For instance, in 2000, 29 million tonnes of crude petroleum and 2 million tonnes of fuel oil were imported into Canada on tankers.
Northern Gateway will ensure this project is designed and built to world class safety standards. Similar facilities operate safely off the coasts of Norway and Scotland in very similar geographical conditions. Oil ports have also operated safely on the east and west coasts of Canada for many years.
The inner hull of the tanker is subdivided into individual cargo tanks. Depending on the vessel’s size and design, there will be 10 to 18 tanks on the tanker.
All tankers carrying product will be escorted by a tethered tug within the outer channel between Browning Entrance (or Caamaño Sound) and the northern end of Douglas Channel. An additional escort tug will be used in some portions of the shipping routes within the Confined Channel Assessment Area (CCAA).
This CCAA includes the confined waters comprising of the area between Browning Entrance at the north end of Principe Channel (Northern Route) and the marine terminal and between the entrance to Caamaño Sound and the marine terminal.
Emergency response personnel and equipment will be located at Kitimat and along the marine route to ensure the fastest response time possible. We are currently assessing where the stations could be positioned.
Spills are NOT inevitable and Northern Gateway has placed high priority on both the assessment of risks and the measures required to mitigate those risks, as well as response capabilities and the equipment and logistics support a rapid response would require.
The goal of our marine safety program is to reduce the chances of an oil spill to as close to zero as we can and in fact the probability is remote. Det Norske Veritas, an independent Norway-based organization specializing in marine risk assessment was chosen in a round-table process involving stakeholders and participating aboriginal groups to do this risk assessment. Both the choice of risk analysis study firm and the assessment study itself were independent of Enbridge.
What was found was that under our proposed marine safety program, the probability of a “large” spill of 20,000 cubic metres (126,000 barrels) is once in 2,800 years, and the probability of a “major” spill of 40,000 cubic metres (252,000 barrels) is once in more than 15,000 years (project application Volume 8C, Section 3, page 3-2).
The main weather impacts on shipping include sea states caused by strong winds and sea fog. To mitigate these climatic states, vessels movements within the channel will only take place in conditions that are safe and within navigational limits.
Northern Gateway has undertaken a Full Mission Bridge Simulation with assistance from the British Columbia Coast Pilots at the Force Technologies facility in Denmark. These findings show that the tanker routes can be navigated safely within environmental parameters.
In the case the responsible party is the marine terminal owner/operator, Northern Gateway would accept full responsibility for all for the costs related to the emergency response and for any property damage as a result of the spill.
In the event of a spill at the marine terminal, Northern Gateway would fairly review and cover claims for losses.
In the event of a spill from a ship, Northern Gateway would liaise with the community and the pollution fund administrators to make sure that those losses are also fairly reviewed and covered. Together with our Community Advisory Board, we would take the lead in making sure that people are fairly dealt with and have access to the funds that have been set up to deal with ship-sourced pollution events.
In either event, Northern Gateway accepts our responsibility to the community to make sure that people do not suffer losses from our project and from ships calling on the Northern Gateway Kitimat Terminal.
For spills originating from a ship, the ship owner would be responsible. Under Canadian law and international conventions, ship owners are required to carry insurance to cover spill damages. In addition, shippers of oil pay into international and Canadian pollution funds to cover the costs of spills over and above insured losses. It would apply to shipping to and from ports in all areas of Canada, including Atlantic Canada, and Quebec. Canada has looked at this and recently increased the amount available to $1.33 MM an amount determined by nations around the world to be appropriate and sufficient to cover the costs of most, if not all types of oil spill events. If Parliament decides that greater coverage is required , that adjustment can be made via the Canadian Ship-sourced Oil Pollution fund, a fund that has rarely been called upon in Canada given the excellent record of the shipping industry on both of our coasts.
Oil spill responsibility, compensation and spill response are all thoroughly covered in our project application in Volume 8. Our plans are to a be a model of world class safety and environmental standards, and to that end, the equipment and logistics support to enable a rapid response in the channel will greatly exceed regulatory requirements. We also expect these topics to be thoroughly reviewed in the regulatory process.
Located in Kitimat at the end of the Douglas Channel, one of the widest and deepest waterways on North America’s West Coast, the Northern Gateway Terminal will employ the highest worldwide safety and navigational standards. Safety will be a top priority for both the terminal and vessels.
For more information, please see the Marine Information and Plan page.
Northern Gateway announces $1.5M education & training fund. Read more.