Map shows area of computer models simulating crude oil spills that could result from existing tanker traffic.

Gaps wide in oil spill scenarios

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent

VICTORIA – The B.C. environment ministry has released its promised study of the current state of crude oil spill response capability, tracking the growing tonnage of petroleum shipping along the West Coast and estimating response time and effectiveness if oil was to spill at sea.

Oil recovery in computer simulated oil spills could be as high as 25 per cent after five days, or as low as four per cent for Alaska crude, with another quarter evaporating.

The study was commissioned to back up Premier Christy Clark’s conditions for B.C.’s approval of expanded heavy oil shipments, either from twinning the TransMountain pipeline from northern Alberta to Burnaby, or the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project across northern B.C. to a new tanker port at Kitimat.

Environment Minister Mary Polak said the study shows the need to increase response capability before the B.C. government would consider increased oil shipments.

“While we respect federal jurisdiction over marine spills, we must ensure B.C.’s interests are being met, and that means adding more resources to protect our coast,” Polak said.

The three-volume report also details the huge and growing traffic that exists now.

Shipping data show a 17 per cent increase in marine traffic volume from 2011 to 2012. An estimated 110 million cubic metres of petroleum products per year are shipped, about a third of which is crude-like bunker oil carried as fuel on ships of all kinds. The biggest tanker cargo is 38 million cubic metres of mostly Alaska crude a year.

The study includes recovery estimates for seven oil spill scenarios, six of which assumed a spill of Alaska North Slope crude that has been shipped by tankers down the B.C. coast to U.S. refineries since the 1970s. Two scenarios involve an Alaska crude spill in Dixon Entrance, with four per cent recovery in summer an three per cent in winter.

One scenario examines a summer-time spill of diluted bitumen in the Juan de Fuca Strait, with response from Canadian and U.S. ships and oil recovery equipment. It estimated 31 per cent oil recovery after five days, in summer conditions with daylight-only operations.

Tanker shipments from Kinder Morgan Canada’s Burnaby terminal hit a high of 69 in 2010. some of which were diluted bitumen. The expansion would mean 300 tankers a year in and out of Vancouver harbour.

The federal government has launched its own research project to model the drift and behaviour of a bitumen spill in the ocean around Kitimat, and funded marine weather forecasting to facilitate shipping.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: Highway 3A reopened after mudslide cleared

A mudslide closed Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson just north of the Brilliant Dam on Wednesday.

B.C., Alberta clash as Kinder Morgan suspends Trans Mountain work

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley promises “serious economic consequences” for B.C.

Lt.-Gov. Guichon believes she made the right decision in last B.C. election

Outgoing Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon said her most memorable moments weren’t surrounding the election

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called negotiations ‘perpetual’

Pulp mill fined $900,000 for leaking effluent into B.C. lake

Mackenzie Pulp Mill pleaded guilty to depositing deleterious substance into water frequented by fish

B.C.’s 2-year lobbying ban starts May 1

Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists can grant exemptions from the prohibition if public interest

Horgan speaks of government’s successes to ‘friends’ at CUPE BC convention

CUPE BC president Paul Faoro said was first time a B.C. premier addressed convention in some time

Speed Skating Canada fires coach Michael Crowe after investigation

Crowe was a coach on the American team from 1983 to 1991 and again from 1999 to 2006

5 things to know about the ongoing influx of asylum seekers in Canada

Number of illegal border crossings are up this year – as RCMP, military, politicians try to combat

VIDEO: Smokers talk pot rules at annual 4-20 event

Annual pot protest-meets-festival in Vancouver attracted hundreds to vendors, concert

Most Read