VANCOUVER -Following B.C.'s five clear conditions for heavy-oil pipelines, government is taking strong and decisive action to develop world-leading practices for all land-based spill prevention and response by releasing a policy development discussion paper that will lead to comprehensive stakeholder engagement in the new year.
Beginning in January, Environment Minister Terry Lake and Energy and Mines Minister Rich Coleman will hold face-to-face meetings with industry leaders in the oil, gas, chemical and transport sectors to discuss key elements outlined in Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response in British Columbia: Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation, such as:
- Establishing a world-leading regime for land-based spill preparedness and response.
- Developing effective and efficient rules for restoration of the environment following a spill.
- Ensuring effective government oversight and co-ordination of industry spill response.
B.C.'s goal is to meet or exceed best practices in order to become world-leading. Points of discussion will include: minimum response times, equipment and trained personnel requirements, wildlife response, temporary and final waste management, clean-up expectations, and impact assessment, among others.
Stakeholder outreach will be coupled with web-based public consultation where others who may be impacted, such as First Nations, local governments, and environmental non-governmental organizations, can access the paper and provide written input. The paper can be accessed online at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/spr_eep/response.htm
This phase of consultation ends Feb. 15, 2013 and will help set the stage for a land-based spill prevention and response symposium where world leaders in the field, such as Norway and the Pacific States, will be invited to discuss best practices that will help build policy. Currently in the planning stage, the symposium is slated for late March 2013 in Vancouver.
The paper builds on one of the five minimum requirements the B.C. government has set out as being necessary for support of heavy-oil projects i.e. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines.
Pipelines are just one focus; however, as the goal is to gather input and develop policy in terms of preparedness and response for all non-marine hazardous spills, including: oil-tank leaks, overturned tanker trucks, and chemical spills.
While working on an improved land-based spill regime, the B.C. government continues to press the federal government for a stronger role in the work they are undertaking on a world-leading marine-based spill response model. The government of B.C. will be consulting with an independent expert in this area to ensure B.C.'s interests are met, while at the same time respecting federal jurisdiction for marine-based protection and response.
The B.C. government will take part in the Joint Review Panel hearings in Prince Rupert on the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline (NGP), beginning Dec. 10. There, the Joint Review Panel will look into questions about maritime-spill prevention, response and mitigation, and environmental effects associated with the proposed marine terminal.
Terry Lake, Minister of Environment -
"Our government is committed to protecting the environment and that means, regardless of future pipeline opportunities, we need world-leading standards for spill preparedness and response in place immediately for all hazardous material spills. This is why we are developing a plan, in partnership with industry, which will put B.C. at the forefront of environmental protection, while at the same time working with the federal government to develop a world-leading marine-spill response."
Brenda Kenny, president and CEO, Canadian Energy Pipelines Association -
"We support the government of British Columbia's policy which re-enforces an effective spill preparedness and response framework for the Province. It mirrors the transmission pipeline industry's commitment to excellence in emergency management and pipeline safety. The Canadian pipeline industry already follows strict national standards and regulations which enable the industry to operate in the safest and most environmentally sound manner. However, any opportunity to review and continuously improve on these standards and regulations for the benefit of Canadians and the environment is always encouraged."
Dave Collyer, president, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers -
"We support this review by the B.C. government. It will provide assurance that world-class land-based spill preparedness and response are in place in the province. Providing the public with confidence that our industry operates in a safe and responsible manner is key to industry's social licence to operate."
Kevin Gardner, president, Western Canada Marine Response Corporation -
"Western Canada Marine Response Corporations (WCMRC) mission is to deliver safe and effective oil-spill response services within the province of British Columbia. WCMRC exceeds all federal planning standards but is always looking to improve our response model. As such, we have a benchmarking study underway against other world responders. We look forward to working in partnership with our government agencies to achieve this goal."
- B.C.'s Environmental Emergency Program has 16 full-time staff and about $2.4 million per year in dedicated funding. In the event of a major spill, the program can also draw on support from technical specialists from, and funded by, other government programs.
- The Environmental Emergency Program covers the inland areas and coastal shoreline of B.C. (an area of 947,800 kilometres squared, with a coastline of 27,000 kilometres).
- The Ministry of Environment receives approximately 3,500 notifications of environmental emergencies per year; this includes oil-tank leaks, home-based oil spills, overturned tanker trucks, oil and fuel spills on water, rail accidents and chemical spills. Approximately 90 per cent of these are considered to be minor spills and are handled by regionally based environmental emergency response officers working in co-ordination with the spiller, local emergency response agencies (such as fire departments) and response contractors.
- B.C.'s five minimum requirements that must be met for the government to consider the construction and operation of heavy-oil pipelines within its borders are:
Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of the NGP, that means a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceeds.
- World-leading marine-oil spill prevention response and recovery systems for B.C.'s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments.
- World-leading practices for land-oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines.
- Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in, and benefit from, a heavy-oil project.
- British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the government, the environment and taxpayers.
BC Newsroom - Ministry of Environment: http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/ministries/environment-1
Ministry of Environment's Environmental Emergency Program: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/eemp/
Ministry of Environment Communications