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South Shore chapter opposes Shell offshore drilling in Shelburne Basin

The drill ship Stena IceMax has been contracted by Shell to do exploratory drilling offshore of Nova Scotia.

The Council of Canadians South Shore chapter is encouraging people to join their campaign to protect offshore Nova Scotia.

In October 2015, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board granted approval to Shell to drill two oil wells on the edge of the Scotian Shelf, a geological formation located southwest of Nova Scotia.

CBC reported, “The board authorized a Shell drilling plan in the Shelburne Basin, which is about 250 kilometres southwest of Shelburne. Initially, the plan had a 21-day timeframe to contain subsea blowouts, but the approved plan was shortened to between 12 and 13 days. Environmental groups say that timeline is too long and falls short of the U.S. requirement of 24 hours for drilling in the waters off Alaska.”

Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil says, “Offshore development is one of our most exciting opportunities for growth and I am thrilled Shell is committed to further exploring our offshore potential by drilling its first deep-water well.” Shell says there is an “extremely low” probability of a blowout (which is not comforting). And Stuart Pinks, the CEO of the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, says the federal and provincial governments have agreed all ocean territory – except the Georges Banks – is now open to potential drilling (which is even more worrisome).

The chapter has posted, “On May 24, we listened to Pinks present the Board’s less than reassuring answers to councillors’ questions at the regular meeting of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg. One of the many head-scratching quotes from the presentation: ‘Environmental effects of [oil] exploration on fisheries not expected to result in unacceptable effects … provided appropriate mitigation and ongoing communication with stakeholders takes place.'”

The Canadian Press has reported, “The Scotian Shelf includes some of the province’s richest fishing grounds for haddock, and a huge spawning area for lobster.” The fisheries industry is worth over $1 billion to the economy of Nova Scotia and there are major concerns about the impact of this drilling and potential spills.

Already, prompting addtional concern about the ability to drill in the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean, two kilometres of pipe that connects the Stena IceMax drilling rig to a wellhead under the ocean broke off and sank during a storm in the Shelburne Basin on March 5.

Beyond the issue of oil spills in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore drilling contributes to climate change.

Because of the long lead times associated with offshore drilling, it is inconsistent with reducing carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving a 100 per cent clean energy economy by 2050.

A new United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report highlights that Old Town Lunenburg – a world heritage site located on the south shore of Nova Scotia – is at risk because of climate change. CBC reports, “Rising seas could put some of its coastal land permanently underwater, and lead to damage to buildings and roads from storm surges and flooding.”

Additionally, the chapter has posted on its Facebook page, “Although most people are concerned about blowouts related to the Shelburne Basin project, we are learning that this campaign is unexpectedly providing a lot of information to speak against the Energy East Pipeline campaign.”

To join this campaign, please contact the chapter at southshore.cpons@gmail.com