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US Coast Guard to Probe BC Oil Tanker Expansion Plans PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Thursday, 10 January 2013 19:55

By Justina Reichel Epoch Times  January 9, 2013

An oil tanker plies the waters off California. The U.S. Coast Guard will review oil tanker traffic from Vancouver in light of Kinder Morgan  s plan to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline. (David McNew/Getty Images)

An oil tanker plies the waters off California. The U.S. Coast Guard will review oil tanker traffic from Vancouver in light of Kinder Morgan’s plan to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline. (David McNew/Getty Images)

Oil tanker traffic off the British Columbia coast is coming under scrutiny as U.S. authorities launch a review of proposed increases in oil exports out of Vancouver harbour.

A legislative amendment proposed by Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell and signed into law by President Barack Obama gives the U.S. Coast Guard six months to conduct a risk assessment of potential expansion of oil pipeline capacity to the West Coast.The review comes in light of Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin its 1,150-kilometre Trans Mountain pipeline system between Strathcona County, Alberta, and Burnaby, B.C. If approved, the expansion would increase the nominal capacity of the system from 300,000 barrels per day to 750,000 barrels per day.

“A supertanker oil spill near our shores would threaten Washington State’s thriving coastal economy and thousands of jobs,” Cantwell said in a statement. “This bill will provide crucial information for Washington coastal communities by requiring a detailed risk analysis within 180 days.”

The review will assess the risk of transporting oil via tanker and barge through the Salish Sea waterways, which encompass both U.S. and Canadian waters between southern Vancouver Island and the mainland.

The Coast Guard will also examine regulations that apply to oil tankers in U.S. waters compared to Canadian waters, and analyze whether extra safety measures are needed to transport what Cantwell calls “tar sands” oil.

 

 

A supertanker oil spill near our shores would threaten Washington State’s thriving coastal economy and thousands of jobs.

— Washington State Sen. Maria Cantwell

 

In addition, the review will include an analysis of the properties of the oil, “which are likely different than other types of oil and therefore could require special cleanup technology,” according to Cantwell’s statement.

A spokesperson for federal Transport Minister David Lebel says Canada has long worked closely with the U.S. to ensure goods are transported safely across their shared border.

“Our government has been clear: If any project does not meet or surpass our stringent environmental standards, it will not proceed,” said Mike Winterburn.

“Canada has strong environmental protection measures including double-hulled tanker requirements, mandatory pilotage, and improved navigational tools. Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s West Coast for 80 years.”

 

PEJ Editor's Comment 

 If the Endbridge goes through, and if tankers go along the coast, Canada could be in violation of the tranboundary principle under the leally binding UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.

Under Art 194 2 of the Law of the Sea is the obligation

To take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control are so conducted as not to cause damage by pollution to other States and their environment, and that pollution arising from incidents or activities under their jurisdiction or control does not spread beyond the areas where they exercise sovereign rights in accordance with this Convention. (Art. 194. 2., Law of the Seas, 1982)

And also from universally adopted Rio Declaration is principle 2 related to the transboundary principle:

States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Canada cannot ensure that the damage from tankers emanating from Canada will not extend beyond its boundaries, and damage to the environment of other states in violation of the transboundary principle; the US is legitimately concerned.

Last Updated on Friday, 11 January 2013 08:28
 

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