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Monday, May 30, 2005

Big on Talk - Small on Action

It was announced recently that the Federal Government is planning to spend $1.2 million to assess the possible impacts of an oil spill in Placentia Bay or along the South Coast of Newfoundland. The study, which is being commissioned by Transport Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard, will look at what would happen to both the economy and the environment for up to 10 years following a major spill.

This study is being undertaken because a previous Federal study conducted 15 years ago identified Placentia Bay as the most likely place in Canada for a major oil spill, due to the volume of tankers that pass through the area. Since the first study was completed, traffic is estimated to have increased 10 fold.

All sounds great doesn’t it? But wait a second, let’s think this through.

If the government spends $1.2 million on this study, at the end of the day we will have a document that will tell us what the possible impacts will be to the environment and economy. Rather than a study, couldn’t the money be used to protect the environment and stimulate the economy?

Let me elaborate.

The Study conducted 15 years ago identified Placentia Bay as a danger zone, but nothing of consequence was done then. It’s now 15 years later and tanker traffic has increased ten fold. Exploration continues and life goes on. Why should we expect that anything would be done as a result of this new study?

Regardless of what the study shows, we are not going to shut down Come By Chance or the trans shipment facility at Whiffen Head. The economy of the Province would be devastated if we curtailed oil production and shipment. The Canadian economy would suffer, jobs would disappear and there would be an impact, no matter how small, to world oil prices. Nothing is going to happen to the industry no matter what the study shows

We all know that oil spills along any coast are devastating. We don’t need a study to tell us that. In this light, wouldn’t it be a much better use of our $1.2 million in tax dollars to setup an emergency response team in the area and arm that team with state of the art equipment?

There are several companies in the province that cater to the needs of the oil industry. These companies produce and distribute everything from containment booms to oil absorbent materials made from peat moss and even special microbes that actually eat hydrocarbons. The economic benefit to these companies and the increased probability of limiting any spill damage would be a much better use of this money than another study would be.

What happens if we have a major spill while the study is being conducted? Wouldn’t it be better to act rather than create another pile of useless government paper?

Simply put, the oil is not going to stop flowing and the threat of a spill is not going to disappear simply because of another expensive government study. Instead of wasting time and money on examining possible environmental and economic impacts, let’s put the infrastructure in place to deal with the situation if it does happen. In this way we can quickly respond to the situation, limit the environmental impact and help stimulate the local economy.


Mike said...

It might take a little more than 1.2 million in the long run to setup, equip and maintain an emergency response team in that area, but it would be a fantastic investment and a much better use of our tax dollars.

In fact, if properly setup it could be used to respond to other types of environmental disasters.

Your absolutely right, a study is going to show us nother other than the fact that Oil spills are bad for the environment and cost a lot to clean up. We already know that, there are plenty of examples world wide to prove it. We don't need a piece of paper to show us that.

Richard K. said...

The government would rather burn the money than use it where it would do the best work.

The way they think, the way to clean up an oil spill is to burn it off by lighting it on fire by using $100 bills to get it going.

Patriot said...

Good point Richard.

I would'nt doubt it for a minute.

Dave in Torbay said...

Of course the thousands of oiled birds we have seen through bilge oil dumping, the catastrophe of the Exxon Valdez and the results of countless world wide oil spills aren't enough to show the government the impact of a costal oil spill. They need to study it further.

Maybe they think we have some special absorbant rocks on our coast or something.

Andrea said...

doing something rather than studying it would make too much sense. This is the government we're talking about after all.

Anne said...

Good point.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Every vehichle carrying dangerous goods should have to carry a minimum emergency containment equipment kit.

Recent example is the oil spill by the train wreck in Alberta. Each and every train should have to carry a box car full of emergency, containment equipment. Probably where the cabose used to be.

As well as carying the emergency equipment training on ts use should also be a prerequisite.