I have been watching ads on TV presented by pipeline companies. You know the ones. They show company employees who look and sound just like the rest of us and tell us how concerned they are about environment issues. They tell us they too live on the coast and are part of the B.C. community. The ads present a “feel good” message that tankers accompanied by two tug boats do not represent a risk to our marine environment. The ads do not present a comprehensive strategy that convinces me that natural waters full of oil tankers will be a safe. In response I have been thinking about minimum conditions that should be applied if Canada and B.C. decide to approve pipelines for bitumen from Alberta to Prince Rupert regardless of environmental risks.
Each tanker should be accompanied by a full-service recovery vessel that is capable of containing and recovering all spilled contaminant upon a spill. A second full service spill recovery ship should accompany each tanker for redundancy at any time a tanker is underway in B.C. waters.
The shipping season should be restricted to summer months only when storms are less likely to occur between mid-April and cease one month before storms are likely to begin again by mid-August.
Cetacians including whales and dolphins are particularly vulnerable to tanker traffic in the inside passage through collisions that injure or kill whales. Tanker traffic should never be allowed to exceed speeds that could injure whales and dolphins while in B.C. waters. Whale monitoring crews would be employed through the shipping season to identify areas of whale activity that would be avoided. Each tanker should employ whale observers who would watch from the bow and use drones to monitor in real time, ahead of the vessel for surface activity of whales.
These are a few of my thoughts on the matter and should be considered a minimum requirement to protect the marine environment if increased tanker traffic is approved in B.C. waters.