New spill response base proposed for Nanaimo, part of an expansion to be funded by the Trans Mountain project. (Western Canada Marine Response Corp.)

Bitumen no worse than other crude, Ottawa says

B.C. call for oil risk feedback draws blast from Transport Canada

Transport Canada has issued a lengthy response to B.C.’s concern about “gaps” in knowledge of oil spill behaviour, referring to 60 peer-reviewed papers published by federal scientists since 2012 on diluted bitumen alone.

Today (April 30) is the B.C. government’s deadline for public input into its new policy intentions paper, issued at the end of February to collect feedback on ways to reduce oil spills in the province. The B.C. NDP government plans to issue a policy update in August.

The federal response contradicts recent statements by B.C. Premier John Horgan and Environment Minister George Heyman that expanding the Trans Mountain pipeline to enable more shipments of diluted bitumen represents an unacceptable threat to the B.C. coast.

RELATED: B.C. seeks court ruling on new pipeline regulations

The Transport Canada response details studies of Alberta heavy crude’s behaviour in fresh and salt water and changes as the oilsands-extraced heavy oil weathers, compared to conventional crude oil that is carried by tankers daily from Alaska to Washington, California and Gulf Coast refineries.

“Our findings have shown that diluted bitumen behaviour falls within the range of conventional oil products, and so conventional mechanical methods have been found effective, especially in the initial stages of a spill,” Transport Canada states in its submission.

“We are continuing to study both the impacts of the spill of diluted bitumen on biota, as well as mapping the baseline ecological state of the coastal ecosystems that could be affected by an oil spill.”

Baseline studies are underway along B.C.’s north coast, where the Trudeau government has imposed a moratorium on crude oil tanker docking that effectively killed the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposed to run to Kitimat.

The B.C. government intentions paper sought feedback on what response times it should require in new policy. It acknowledges that marine spill response is the responsibility of Transport Canada, with the Canadian Coast Guard as the lead agency.

The federal government has an expansion of its spill response in the works, with new facilities to be constructed by the industry-funded Western Canada Marine Response Corp. They include response bases at Burrard Inlet, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Sidney and Beecher Bay in the Juan de Fuca Strait, as well as an offshore supply vessel to be based at Ogden Point in Victoria.

Kinder Morgan Canada has committed $150 million to the spill response project, conditional on completion of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning. That funding was suspended by the company this month, along with all non-essential spending on the pipeline, with Kinder Morgan seeking assurances by the end of May that further delays and demands won’t be imposed on a project that has already received federal and provincial approval.

The previous B.C. Liberal government commissioned its own spill study in 2013, when it was pressing for conditions to increased crude oil pipeline capacity that included greater spill response. It found that marine traffic was increasing rapidly, with 110 million cubic metres of petroleum products being shipped annually. About one third of that was Alaska crude oil in tankers, and another third was bunker oil that is used as fuel for large shipping of all kinds.

Just Posted

Truck stolen from 100 Mile and recovered

The weekly police report from the 100 Mile House area

Did you get a flu shot this season?

Weekly web poll for the 100 Mile Free Press

100 Mile House man pleads guilty to second degree murder in death of former girlfriend

Michael Martel admits to violent attack on Vesna Dumpstrey-Soos

100 Mile House Blind Curling team comes in third on home ice

Club will be going to the 2019 Western Blind Curling Association Championship in March

Combination of skiing and yoga is a hit for the 100 Mile House Nordics Club

The club offers a new program where women can night ski together and wind down with yoga

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Suspended B.C. legislature officers accused of ‘flagrant overspending’

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Alberta youth charged over theft of $17,000 in snow equipment at B.C. ski resort

Alberta RCMP recovered $17,000 in skis/snowboards believed stolen from Fernie Alpine Resort Saturday

China demands U.S. drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

Hua said China demands that the U.S. withdraw the arrest warrant against Meng Wanzhou

Giant ice disk equipped with webcam after surviving storm

Westbrook official Tina Radel says the livestream was requested by Brown University

Ousted B.C. legislature officials say report released to further blacken their reputations

James and Lenz say release was ‘Contrary to all principles of fairness and decent treatment’

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

Auto shop apologizes after B.C. employees disrespect memorial convoy

Mr. Lube staff members suspended after incident Sunday in Nanaimo

Most Read