British Columbia has modified the conditions of its Trans Mountain pipeline expansion environmental assessment certificate and informed the federal government that it still has concerns regarding its response to marine oil spillages.
The changes announced in February center on the effects of marine shipping and oil spillages from ships that could be caused by the pipeline project.
The expansion will almost triple the capacity of the 1,150-kilometre pipeline, which transports 300,000. barrels per day of petroleum products between Alberta and B.C. It will also significantly increase the number tankers transporting oil for export.
In a letter relaying B.C.’s updated conditions, Environment Minister George Heyman, and Energy Minister Bruce Ralston asked Jonathan Wilkinson, federal Natural Resources Minister, to adopt a series recommendations that would address the province’s concerns after consulting with Indigenous nations, municipalities and the public.
Heyman and Ralston argued that Ottawa would best address these concerns as part of federal regulations and measures.
B.C. The province stated in a news release that it has made changes under its jurisdiction and tried to avoid duplicate federal regulations.
B.C. recommends that Transport Canada include Western Canada Marine Response Corp. as part of its oversight, which responds in case of spillages. It states that Transport Canada’s oversight should include shoreline cleanup and planning for submerged oil and sunken oil, coordination of volunteers, and managing wildlife, waste, and other issues in the event a spillage occurs.
Ministers wrote that they strongly encourage you to consider these important recommendations and to act on them as soon possible to ensure that Trans Mountain expansion is conducted in the most safe manner possible.
B.C.’s new conditions require that Trans Mountain (a federal Crown corporation) provide a report about the health risks posed by a marine oil leakage. It must list the measures that can be taken to reduce exposure and adverse health effects, and indicate who would be responsible.
Trans Mountain must also provide baseline data on B.C.’s shoreline in areas that could potentially be affected by an oil leakage, including Vancouver’s English Bay and Strait of Georgia. According to the order, the report should include information about land use, infrastructure, and flora or fauna.
Trans Mountain was also required to update its research every five years.
Trans Mountain spokespersons stated that they are reviewing the changes in order to determine the next steps.
Wilkinson, as well as anyone from his Department of Natural Resources, were unable to comment on the request of provincial governments.
Andrew Radzik, a Georgia Strait Alliance energy campaigner, stated that while the changes in the provinces are welcome, there are still gaps.
We have better baseline data in case of a spillage. That is great, it’s important. He said that this information will help to inform spill response plans in an interview.
They don’t have to follow a specific standard for shoreline spill response plans.
Radzik stated that instead, the province relies on federal regulations regarding marine shipping and spill response, which it has been criticised for being too vague.
Transport Canada requires marine response organizations to treat 500m of shoreline each day. The Western Canada Marine Response Corp. indicated that they are working to increase their capacity to 3,000 meters.
Radzik said that the existing regulations as well as emergency plans for the expansion of the pipeline lack key details, such as what it means to fully treat a coastline.
He said that the province shares jurisdiction along its shoreline, and that it could have amended its projects certificate to require more detailed information or standards.
Radzik stated that the B.C. government is making progress in reducing human health risks. To reduce exposure to potential spillages, it is necessary to outline the roles and responsibilities at all levels of government as well as the role of the pipeline operator.
He said that it was not clear who would pay for these health measures or what percentage the province would have had to pay.
The Environment Ministry explained that B.C.’s new conditions do not contain more specific requirements regarding marine spillage response and preparedness.
B.C. was given the opportunity to change its environmental assessment certificate in 2018 by the Federal Court of Appeal. The Federal Court of Appeal’s 2018 decision allowed B.C. to amend its environmental assessment certificate. It was found that the National Energy Board (now the Canada Energy Regulator) had incorrectly excluded marine shipping.
The regulator reviewed the potential impacts and the federal government used that report in 2019 for approval of the pipeline expansion.
The B.C. The B.C.
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