Deepwater Blowouts: Is Canada Next?

This summer we witnessed the worst oil related disaster in US history, but Canada should be warned.  Here in Canada we're drilling wells off the coast of Newfoundland that are far deeper in far stormier seas than the Deepwater Horizon.  Don't get me started on the Tar Sands, but I think most Canadians are at least aware of what goes on in Alberta.  Until I watched this CBC Passionate Eye Documentary I was oblivious to the fact that a marine oil disaster of such magnitude could potentially happen here.

Canada is entering the deepwater drilling race with 250 exploratory wells off the coast of Newfoundland and 3 deepwater rigs in the Grand Banks that extract in excess of 100 million barrels of oil a year.  And not 5 weeks after the BP spill began, Chevron began constructing a well that's twice as deep and six times as far out to sea as the Deepwater Horizon!  Not to mention how treacherous the North Atlantic waters are in comparison to the Gulf of Mexico with icebergs, fogs, gigantic waves and near freezing temperatures.  I mean, this is the body of water that sank the Titanic! 

Professionals in the ocean sciences industries are concerned about the effects of drilling in and around one of the most fragile fisheries in the world.  A blowout here could be far more ecologically damaging than the one seen in the Gulf.  Commercial stocks such as Cod and Haddock would be affected both by the initial oil contamination as well as Corexit, the chemical dispersant used to hide the oil.  The oil doesn't completely disappear though either, especially not in very cold water where oil eating microbes reproduce and consume oil at a much slower rate.  The oil will sink into the Labrador current where it will be carried all along the Grand Banks,  the spawning ground for most fish stocks as well as a diverse coral based habitat, creating enormous dead zones. 

The area is home to 40 million seabirds (300 species) living 24/7/365 in the water, many very far offshore, and with the sub-zero winter temperatures any contact with oil would eliminate the birds' insulation and their chances of survival would be relatively nonexistent.  Cold water temperatures and winter storm delays will also make combating spills relatively impossible for more than half the year.  So is the Canadian government stepping up to the plate?  No - they're relaxing regulations!  For example, Canada no longer requires deepwater rigs to file a contingency plan of any sort!

I would highly suggest watching this documentary, you would be surprised what you don't know!

1 comment:

  1. I find the problem with many in this country is we believe these things "won't happen to us".

    I shudder every time I hear people talk about drilling in the Arctic.