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SUPERTANKERS + BITUMEN + STORM = DISASTER


Malcolm Dunderdale

This is what we are all talking about……Depending on where in the OWA a tanker loses power, they may drift ashore and ground before an Enbridge tug can arrive.

The Open Water Area (OWA) is the open-ocean portion of the proposed tanker routes. The OWA extends from the confined channels and fjords on B.C.’s coast out 12 nautical miles to the limit of Canada’s Territorial Sea. The OWA includes Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance, Browning Entrance, Otter Passage, Queen Charlotte Sound and the coastal waters around Haida Gwaii1. These waters are known for severe wind and sea conditions. Winter wind speeds can reach up to 200 km/hr and “monster waves” of more than 25 meters can develop in less than eight hours2.

Throughout most of the OWA, tanker captains would need to make all navigational decisions without the benefit of BC Coastal Pilots on board. Should a tanker experience power or steering failure in the OWA, an open-ocean rescue would be required. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated rescue tug on standby in the OWA and instead, Enbridge will rely on its own escort tugs. Unfortunately, no field tests have been done to determine if or how tugs will secure a disabled tanker. Even worse, Enbridge estimates a response time of 10-18 hours to the OWA3. Depending on where in the OWA a tanker loses power, they may drift ashore and ground before an Enbridge tug can arrive.

References:
1 Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines (ENGP). 2010. Volume 1: Overview and General Information. http://www.northerngateway.ca/files/application/Master_Vol%201_Final_11May10.pdf
2 Royal Society of Canada (RSC). 2004. Report of the Expert Panel on Science Issues Related to Oil and Gas Activities, Offshore British Columbia.http://www.rsc.ca/documents/fullreportEN.pdf.
3 Reid, S. 2011. A Technical Analysis of Marine Transportation Statements for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project: Tanker Casualty Risk Reduction and Spill Response Preparedness.

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