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WIN! Shelburne calls for capping stack vessel within 24 hours of BP drilling sites

A scenic view from Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

The Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS) congratulates everyone involved in encouraging the Municipality of Shelburne to write a letter to the federal Ministers of Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries and Oceans to express concern about BP drilling for oil and gas offshore of Nova Scotia.

The letter from the Municipality of Shelburne highlights, “It is impossible to ignore the fact that BP was solely responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest marine oil spill in history, which saw 11 lives lost as well as its devastating impact on numerous communities. A similar disaster in our waters would have the same, if not worse, disastrous consequences to our $3+ billion fishing industry and thousands of associated jobs, marine species and ecosystems, as well as other industries such as tourism. Our entire wellbeing and way of life is at stake.”

The letter adds, “It is our understanding that in 2016, approximately 225 kms off our coast, Shell Canada dropped two kms of drill pipe onto the ocean floor, missing the wellhead by less than 20 metres. It is also our understanding that there is no plan for recovering the debris as it is too deep, but not to deep to drill.”

“Two years later, and only two months into drilling, [the] report by BP of ‘unauthorized discharge’ (a spill) of drilling mud of approximately 136,000 litres, underscores the technical challenges of drilling in waters at an unprecedented depth of approximately 2,800 metres and the urgency for CNSOPB to suspend drilling until further notice.”

It concludes, “CNSOPB must demonstrate to the residents of Nova Scotia that they indeed understand these complexities and risks and ensure proper measures are in place to mitigate such accidents. We believe measures would include a capping stack vessel located within 24 hours of all drilling sites, as is the case in Norway and the UK.”

In an article published just prior to a Council of Canadians tour that visited Shelburne on March 21 of this year, the Chronicle Herald reported, “[Colin Sproul of the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishers’ Association who will be speaking on this tour says] taking two weeks to deploy [a capping stack] if it is needed is an unacceptable risk, especially considering other countries like Norway and the U.S. require companies to ensure much quicker capping times before approving a project.”

During that visit to Shelburne, the Council of Canadians South Shore chapter and staff met with Warden Penny Smith and Deputy Warden David Levy. The tour also visited Lunenburg on March 22 and that council’s subsequent letter of opposition to BP oil and gas drilling was then shared with Shelburne councillors.

We also want to acknowledge the ongoing work on this issue by Shelburne County resident and Clean Ocean Action Committee director John Davis.

As noted above, Lunenburg town council recently wrote the federal ministers with two requests: 1) a review of an approval process that they don’t believe meets ‘reasonable expectations’. 2) stricter regulations concerning the proximity of drilling projects to protected marine areas and sensitive ecosystems.

Furthermore, Mahone Bay town council has also now written the Trudeau government “calling for a review of the legislation that authorizes the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board to give permission to oil companies to drill off of the coast of Nova Scotia, and to urge the minister [of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard] to conduct public consultations on the issue of oil drilling off the coast of Nova Scotia.”

CPONS and the Clean Ocean Action Committee argue that municipalities play a key role in protecting the coast and expect that other municipalities will follow Shelburne, Lunenburg and Mahone Bay in writing the federal government with their concerns.

For more on this campaign, please click here.