MP REPORT: Safety critical

Colin Mayes provides some information about tanker traffic and the movement of oil

The federal B.C. Conservative caucus, twice a year, hosts stakeholder meetings to speak with British Columbians on issues and projects that are impacting our province.

We hosted our fall 2013 meeting in Westside in September and at those meetings, we heard a dozen presentations.

One of the presenters was a representative from the Chamber of Shipping of B.C., captain Steven Brown. Captain Brown’s comments were focused on the chamber’s communications initiative to educate Canadians on the safety measures and success of shipping safety worldwide.

Here are a few facts that I think you need to be aware of. First, marine pilotage in B.C. is comprised of around 100 pilots and has an accident free record of 99.98 per cent out of more than 12,000 assignments per year.

Second, in the 1970s, around 500 oil spills were reported, and as a result, new regulations and double-hulled oil tanker specifications have eliminated oil spills to zero in 2012.

Third, in 2012, the largest tanker port in the world was Singapore which handled 22,230 tanker calls. Houston, Texas has 4,650, Los Angeles/Long Beach is at 1,311 and Vancouver is at 166. Fourth, the Douglas Channel at its narrowest point is around 1,500 meters wide. A large oil tanker is only 60 meters wide, plus the draft clearance in the strait is 10 times safety standard levels.

Finally in B.C., we are fortunate in having two world-class tug operations covering major traffic areas of our coastline, and the shipping lanes off the B.C. coast are determined by the response time that it would take a tug to reach a ship that had lost engine power relative to the time the ship might be grounded.

I should note that 80 per cent of the crude oil in the world is transported by oil tankers.

New GPS technology, better ship design, and better safety procedures have eliminated much of the risk related to marine transport.  You can find more info at www.safeshippingbc.ca.

I give you this information so you will know that whatever the Enbridge Northern Gateway or the Kinder Morgan TransMountain expansion project environmental review decisions might be, these facts will give you some comfort if the decision is to proceed.