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Environmental, fishing and social justice groups unite from coast to coast for a halt to BP offshore drilling N.S.

Days after BP spilled drilling mud offshore of Nova Scotia, more than 25 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Canadians have sent an open letter calling on Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna to halt BP’s offshore drilling near Sable Island National Park Reserve. The letter calls on McKenna to revisit the approval of BP’s application in light of new expert evidence that the project’s risks were not fully assessed.

“BP has been drilling for only two months and has already had a significant spill. This should be setting off alarms for people everywhere,” says John Davis of the Clean Oceans Action Committee, which represents 9,000 Nova Scotians who make a living in the fisheries. “We know the conditions of our offshore waters and know these and other risks were underestimated by BP. Now we have an expert confirming this. It’s time to reconsider this approval to drill.”

The open letter highlights expert evidence noted in Dr. Robert Bea’s opinion article and public statements indicating the project’s risks were not fully considered. These relate to BP Canada’s assessment of uncontrolled blowout risks, and the fact that the nearest capping stack is almost two weeks away in Norway and the company does not have plans to drill a relief well.

Mi'kmaki Grassroots Grandmother Dorene Bernard, with the Treaty Truck House Water Protectors, says that grassroots Treaty Rights holders were never consulted and do not consent to BP oil drilling in Mi'kmaki. “Our waters are sacred and have sustained us for more than 13,000 years, and we stand with all Nova Scotians to protect the sacred,” she says.

“We must protect the oceans and minimize risks to our coasts. It is more than reasonable now to reconsider this approval, and ensure keeping our waters as clean as possible is a priority,” says Karel Mayrand, director general of Quebec, David Suzuki Foundation.

Dr. Bea is an expert with more than 48 years of experience. He is professor emeritus at University of California Berkeley, co-director and founder of the university’s Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and studied BP’s Macondo well blowout disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

“This spill is a wake-up call. Drilling puts our economy and sustainable jobs in the fishing and tourism industries at risk. We need to stop expanding the fossil fuel industry in Canada and start getting serious about planning for more sustainable energy production and consumption,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy and Climate Justice Campaigner with the Council of Canadians.  

Dr. Bea likens BP’s Nova Scotian plans with its 2016 proposal to drill exploratory wells in the Great Australian Bight. Following his and other expert reviews of the risks associated with an uncontrolled blowout, the Australian government imposed further protective measures. BP then withdrew its proposal to drill offshore in Australia.

Read the open letter.


For more information or to arrange interviews:

Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org. Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs

Nova Scotia Offshore Drilling: Worth the Risk?