2014

Harper government announces first steps towards World-Class Tanker Safety System

VANCOUVER, March 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The Harper government today announced a number of measures toward the creation of a World-Class Tanker Safety System. The implementation of eight tanker safety measures was announced along with the introduction of the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act, and the creation of a Tanker Safety Expert Panel to review Canada's current tanker safety system and propose further measures to strengthen it. The announcement was made by the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and the Honourable Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources.

"Our government is working to strengthen the safety of Canadians and better protect the environment," said Minister Lebel. "I am pleased to announce the first steps towards the development of a World-Class Tanker Safety System off the West and East coasts of Canada.

"While our current tanker safety system has served us well for many years, it is essential that we strengthen it to meet future needs, as the transportation of Canadian exports is expected to grow and create many high-quality jobs in Canada."

"As a trading nation, Canada depends on marine shipping for economic growth, jobs and long-term prosperity," said Minister Oliver. "There will be no pipeline development without rigorous environmental protection measures and the tanker safety initiatives we are announcing today are an important aspect of our plan for Responsible Resource Development."

As part of its plan to create a World-Class Tanker Safety System, the government will, in the weeks and months ahead, work and engage with Aboriginal communities.

The Tanker Safety Expert Panel will review Canada's current system and propose further measures to strengthen it. In the coming months, the panel will consult with key stakeholders to enhance the government's knowledge and understanding of how well the current system is working, review our current preparedness and response capacity, and propose new ways to bring Canada's tanker safety system to a world-class status.

"Our panel will work on recommendations to make a strong tanker safety system world-class," said Captain Gordon Houston, Chair of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel. "Together, our panel members have 120 years of maritime experience and a deep commitment to the environment."

Today, the government has also tabled the Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act, which is amending the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. The proposed amendments will:

  • strengthen the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil handling facilities;
  • increase Transport Canada's oversight and enforcement capacity by equipping marine safety inspectors with the tools to enforce compliance;
  • introduce new offences for contraventions of the Act and extend penalties relating to pollution; and
  • enhance response to oil spill incidents by removing legal barriers that could otherwise block agents of Canadian response organizations from participating in clean-up operations.

In addition, the Ministers announced eight measures to strengthen Canada's tanker safety system:

  • Tanker inspections: The number of inspections will increase to ensure that all foreign tankers are inspected on their first visit to Canada, and annually thereafter, to ensure they comply with rules and regulations, especially with respect to double hulls.
  • Systematic surveillance and monitoring of ships: The government will expand the National Aerial Surveillance Program.
  • Incident Command System: The government will establish a Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Incident Command System, which will allow it to respond more effectively to an incident and integrate its operations with key partners.
  • Pilotage programs: We will review existing pilotage and tug escort requirements to see what more will be needed in the future.
  • Public port designations: More ports will be designated for traffic control measures, starting with Kitimat.
  • Scientific research: The government will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment.
  • New and modified aids to navigation: The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes is installed and maintained.
  • Modern navigation system: The CCG will develop options for enhancing Canada's current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013 for government consideration.

Additional information on the tanker safety panel and other initiatives to strengthen Canada's Tanker Safety System for Tanker Ships can be found in the attached backgrounders or at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/backgrounders-menu.htm


Backgrounder


Canada's tanker safety system:
Current situation

Each year, 80 million tonnes of oil are shipped off Canada's east and west coasts. On any given day, there are 180 vessels of  over 500 tonnes gross tonnage that operate within waters under Canadian jurisdiction ( i.e. up to 200 nautical miles from shore).

Canada has a system to prevent, prepare for, and, if necessary, respond to a ship-source spill from tanker vessels designed to transport oil as well as from fuel leakage from ships in general. Spills can also happen when loading or unloading oil at tanker terminals. Canada's system has been designed to respond to these risks.

Current situation on the West Coast

  • Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada's West Coast since the 1930's.
  • In 2009-2010, there were about 1,500 tanker movements on the West Coast, among 475,000 vessel movements in the area.
  • Oil is moved mostly via the ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert and Kitimat. In 2009, about 8.4 million tonnes of oil was shipped out of Vancouver. Much of this oil is transported in barges to and from communities along the B.C. coast. Oil is also carried on-board tankers, freighters, container ships, domestic and international ferries, and other types of commercial and private vessels.
  • A federal moratorium off the coast of B.C. applies strictly to oil and natural gas exploration and development, not to tanker storage or movement.
  • The only significant oil spill in the last 20 years on Canada's West Coast was not tanker related. It occurred in 2006, when the B.C. ferry Queen of the North sank with 240 tonnes of oil on board. Prior to that, in 1988, Vancouver Island was affected by a spill from the Nestucca, an oil barge that lost approximately 1,000 tonnes of oil.
  • It is important to note that the Exxon Valdez, which spilled approximately 40,000 tonnes of oil in 1989, was a single-hull tanker. This type of tanker is no longer allowed to operate in Canadian waters since, as of 2010, large crude oil tankers can no longer operate in our waters without a double hull (a type of hull where the bottom and sides of a vessel have two complete layers of watertight hull surface). The Exxon Valdez had no marine pilot on board, which is required in waters off the Pacific coast under Canadian law.  Further, the Exxon Valdez was not being escorted by a tug boat.  Laden tankers travelling in Canadian waters require tug boats to escort them to open waters.
  • On Canada's West Coast, the National Aerial Surveillance Program flew 389 patrol hours and conducted 3,714 vessel overflights in 2011-12. In addition, 43,508 vessels were tracked.

March 2013


Backgrounder


Creation of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel

The Government of Canada works in a number of ways to protect our marine environment, and to help ensure that marine transportation is safe and efficient. While the current system has served Canada well, a comprehensive review will help us to build a stronger system that can meet future needs. That is why the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel.

Brander-Smith Panel

The last panel to review Canada's tanker safety sytem was commissioned following the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident and led to the Brander-Smith Report. In response to the recommendations contained in this report, a comprehensive national Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response System was developed. This system established a level of preparedness to respond to marine oil pollution incidents in Canadian marine regions south of 60° north latitude.

New measures

While the current system has met existing needs, and there have been no major spills involving oil tankers, the dynamics of oil transportation have changed significantly. For example, oil and liquefied natural gas shipments have increased significantly along with the transport of hazardous and noxious substances. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has recommended that the Government of Canada ensure that Canada is prepared to respond to ship-source oil and chemical spills in Canadian waters.

The Government of Canada is also investing in a suite of measures to strengthen tanker safety and to review the legislative and regulatory frameworks related to it. A key component of these measures is the creation of a panel, which will develop recommendations for a world-class tanker safety system.

The Tanker Safety Expert Panel will conduct a pan-Canadian, evidence-based review and assessment of Canada's tanker safety system to make recommendations to the Government of Canada on the development of a world class system. Specifically, the panel will assess the system's structure, functionality and its overall efficiency and effectiveness.

The review will have two components: the first component will focus on the system currently in place south of 60° north latitude, while the second component will focus on the requirements needed for the Arctic as well as a national review of the requirements for hazardous and noxious substances, including liquefied natural gas.

In particular, the review will focus on the following elements:

  • Current capacity: Is the current regulated response capacity of 10,000 tonnes a world-class standard and what would be the costs and benefits of changing this requirement?
  • Model: How effective is the system's structure, including its private-public model, funding and fee arrangements, and placement of response assets?
  • Coverage: Is there a need to extend the current system to other substances and create a new cost-effective preparedness and response system in the North?

Panel members

John Gordon Houston, Chair

Captain Gordon Houston is the former President and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. He attended Edinburgh University's Nautical Campus receiving the designation of Master Mariner in 1975. He also holds a nautical science diploma from Aigburth Nautical College. After a seagoing career spanning two decades, Captain Houston joined the Prince Rupert Port Corporation as Harbour Master in 1988. Later, he joined the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, as Deputy Harbour Master, and then as Harbour Master where, among his other duties, he represented the Port during the creation of Canada's current Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime.

In 1996, he moved into the Port's executive ranks, as Vice President, Operations. After five years in this role, Captain Houston was appointed President and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority where he oversaw the amalgamation of the three ports in the Lower Mainland.

Richard Gaudreau

Mr. Gaudreau has been practicing law since 1969. His experience includes all activities related to maritime and admiralty law, particularly ship purchasing/selling/financing/chartering, carrier liability, environment law, collisions, salvage and all aspects of marine and protection and indemnity insurance. He also practices in all activities related to international trade. He has vast experience before Canadian and Québec courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada.

He was the chairperson of several Québec and Canadian marine-related organizations. Mr. Gaudreau has been involved in numerous arbitrations, both as a lawyer and an arbitrator. He has chaired a number of public inquiries and studied and drafted maritime and port legislation and regulations in Canada and abroad.

In 2002, Mr. Gaudreau was involved in the private practice of law, and taught post graduate courses in marine transportation management at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. He served as a Lieutenant in the Canadian Naval Reserve, and held the positions of Director of the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council, and Chairman of the Board of the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council. Mr. Gaudreau is an active member of the National Coalition on the Coast Guard Recovery Program, the Canadian Bar Association, and the Quebec Provincial Bar Association.

Michael Mackay Sinclair

Dr. Michael Sinclair is the former Director of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  He holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of California's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He also attended Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and Southampton University in the U.K., where he earned his B.Sc. and M.Sc., respectively.

After positions at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Université du Québec à Rimouski, Dr. Sinclair joined the Bedford Institute in 1978. By 1988, he was appointed to the position of Director, Biological Sciences Branch for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Bedford Institute. He later managed the Marine Fish Division before being appointed, in 2000, Director of the Bedford Institute and Regional Director of Science, Maritimes Region, for the Department of Fisheries and Ocean. During his directorship at the Bedford Institute, Dr. Sinclair led the initiative to establish the Centre for Offshore Oil and Gas Environmental Research (COOGER), the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' first national centre of excellence. He also contributed to the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring program for the shelf-seas off Atlantic Canada, in support of integrated management of ocean uses, including the oil and gas offshore activities. From 2010 to 2012, he was the President of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the international organization which coordinates research, and provides scientific advice on marine issues, for countries bordering the North Atlantic. Dr. Sinclair has numerous publications relating to marine ecosystems.

March 2013


Backgrounder


World-Class Tanker Safety System:
Amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001
(Safeguarding Canada's Seas and Skies Act)

Among the measures to create a World-Class Tanker Safety System, the Government of Canada has proposed amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 to strengthen ship-source oil spill preparedness and response, introduce new requirements for oil handling facilities, and establish new offences for the contravention of pollution prevention provisions in Canada's waters, including administrative monetary penalties (AMP).

The proposed amendments will:

  • strengthen the current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil handling facilities, requiring operators to be proactive in the prevention of spills, and also to have the capacity to effectively respond to a spill, if required. Currently, oil handling facilities are required to have emergency response plans in place. However, they are not obliged to submit these plans to Transport Canada. These amendments will make it mandatory for operators to provide these plans to Transport Canada to ensure they meet the regulations;
  • increase Transport Canada's oversight and enforcement capacity by equipping marine safety inspectors with tools to effectively ensure compliance, introducing new offences for contraventions of the Act and extending the Administrative Monetary Penalty provisions to the Pollution Prevention and Response portion of the Act (Part 8). By doing so, Marine Safety inspectors have the ability to impose administrative monetary penalties to oil handling facilities not in compliance with regulations; and
  • enhance response to oil spill incidents by removing legal barriers that could otherwise block agents of Canadian response organizations from participating in clean-up operations. Right now, Canadian oil spill response organizations have civil and criminal immunity in the Act when they respond to spills from ships. We will expand this immunity for when they respond to spills from oil handling facilities and provide immunity to foreign response organizations.

Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

Administrative monetary penalties are civil fines designed to ensure compliance with legislation as well as regulations and can address a range of compliance issues: some relatively minor and some more severe. An administrative monetary penalty takes away the financial incentives of rule breaking and thereby removes the financial benefit, advantage, or gain a person or corporation can achieve by committing a violation. It helps ensure future compliance by discouraging others from violating legal requirements.

When the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (CSA 2001) came into force on July 1st, 2007, Transport Canada introduced administrative monetary penalties to certain parts of the Act, as a new enforcement mechanism designed to promote compliance and penalize those who did not comply. This approach provides Transport Canada with a more effective compliance program that improves the safety of the marine community, the marine environment and ultimately the general public.

These administrative enforcement tools were introduced when the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force on April 3rd, 2008. The current penalties range from $250 to $25,000. Anyone who is issued an AMP may request a review by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada www.tatc.gc.ca.

Although Transport Canada has introduced administrative monetary penalties, the department retains the ability to prosecute those who do not comply with the CSA 2001 or its regulations.

Should a major oil spill occur in Canadian waters, offenders would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Currently, the Administrative Monetary Penalty regime does not apply to Part 8 of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, which deals with pollution preparedness and response. The government's proposed amendments to the Act would apply the AMP regime to Part 8.  Once the Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations are updated to include the requirements contained in Part 8 and its regulations, marine safety inspectors will be able to issue administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance with the Act.

March 2013


Backgrounder


World-class tanker safety system:
Safe tankers through rigorous inspection and prevention

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting both the safety of Canadians and the environment. No development will proceed unless rigorous environment protection measures are in place. These goals are part of its plan for Responsible Resource Development, which aims to create high-quality jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. Canada is taking further action to ensure that it has a world-class tanker safety system for shipping oil and liquefied natural gas safely through Canada's waterways before any major new energy export facilities become operational.

Eight new measures will strengthen Canada's tanker safety system.

  1. Tanker inspections: The number of inspections will increase to ensure that all foreign tankers are inspected on their first visit to Canada, and annually thereafter, to ensure they comply with rules and regulations, especially with respect to double hulls.
  2. Systematic surveillance and monitoring of ships: The government will expand the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP).
  3. Incident Command System: The government will establish a Canadian Coast Guard Incident Command System which will allow it to respond more effectively to an incident and integrate its operations with key partners.
  4. Pilotage programs: We will review existing pilotage and tug escort requirements to see what more will be needed in the future.
  5. Public port designations: More ports will be designated for traffic control measures, starting with Kimitat.
  6. Scientific research: The government will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment.
  7. New and modified aids to navigation: The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG)  will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices, to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes, is installed and maintained.
  8. Modern navigation system: The CCG will develop options for enhancing Canada's current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013 for government consideration.

Tanker inspections

As of 2010, large crude oil tankers can no longer operate in Canadian waters without a double hull. A double hull is a type of hull where the bottom and sides of a vessel have two complete layers of watertight hull surface.

Transport Canada currently has a requirement for all Canadian-flagged tankers to be inspected at least once a year to ensure they are compliant with current legislation and regulations.

The new measures will increase inspections of all foreign tankers to ensure Canada achieves its policy of inspecting each one on its first visit to Canada and annually thereafter.

Systematic aerial surveillance and monitoring of ships

A watchful eye is kept over ships transiting waters under Canadian jurisdiction through the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP). Three aircraft strategically placed across the country monitor shipping activities over all waters under Canadian jurisdiction using sophisticated state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment including Environment Canada's Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution Program (ISTOP) - which can identify potential spills from satellite images.

Investigations have led to numerous successful prosecutions against marine polluters over the years, with some cases resulting in financial penalties over $100,000. Nationally, the NASP flew 2,064 patrol hours in 2011-2012.  During these patrols, 12,032 vessels were overflown, 135 pollution sightings were detected and 73,315 vessels were tracked.

Long-term funding will be provided to support NASP and the program will be enhanced to boost surveillance efforts in areas such as northern British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Pilotage programs

All tanker operators operating within a compulsory pilotage area must take on board a marine pilot with local knowledge.  The boarding pilot's extensive knowledge of the local waterway can guide the vessel safely to its destination.

Canada's four pilotage authorities are responsible for providing safe, reliable and efficient marine pilotage services at ports in all geographic areas of the country. The four pilotage authorities in Canada are the Atlantic Pilotage Authority, the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority, the Pacific Pilotage Authority and the Laurentian Pilotage Authority.

Transport Canada will review the legal and voluntary measures currently in place to safely guide vessels to their destination.  This review will determine what, if any, legislative and/or regulatory changes to the Pilotage Act or the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 are needed by fall 2013.

Public port designations

The Government of Canada will designate Kitimat as a public port under the Canada Marine Act.  This designation will allow the port to put in place better traffic control measures to facilitate the safe movement of vessels.  A national risk assessment will help to identify other ports for this designation as well.

Incident Command System

As the lead federal agency to ensure an appropriate response to a spill, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) must work effectively with other partners to ensure the protection of the marine environment and public safety. As such, the CCG will adopt the Incident Command System, which will allow for a more effective response to a major spill and integrate its operations with key partners, such as Canada's private-sector response organizations. The Incident Command System is an internationally accepted emergency management system used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response operations.

Scientific research

Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment. The results of these scientific research projects will fortify Canada's marine prevention, preparedness and response capabilities.

Results of this integrated scientific research will inform decision-making in the areas of spill-response technologies and countermeasures, enabling identification of best practices with regard to the selection of the best response tools in a given situation. This research will also provide better understanding of the effect of products, like diluted bitumen, on marine ecosystems. Finally, research will inform strategies to protect the marine environment and its shorelines.

Working together, the three departments will examine diluted bitumen to develop a more profound understanding of the product's chemical and physical properties, and its behaviour in marine environments.

New and modified aids to navigation

The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes is installed and maintained.  The Canadian Hydrographic Service will conduct hydrographic surveys and will incorporate the aids to navigation information along with other safety information to generate improved navigational charts and other related safety products.  Aids to navigation and hydrographic charts and safety information are important elements of Canada's marine navigation system.  Implementation of these measures will ensure mariners are adequately provided with the navigational support they require for safe and efficient navigation of vessels to and from the Port of Kitimat.

Modern navigation system

The CCG, together with the Canadian Hydrographic Service will develop options for enhancing Canada's current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013.

Stakeholders have indicated that Canada's current navigation system could be improved by leveraging advances in data collection and communications technologies. Relevant navigational information (e.g. charts, buoy status, weather, ice conditions, etc.) can now be made electronically available to vessels in real-time, if the right technology is available, thereby improving the safety and efficiency of marine transportation.

March 2013


Backgrounder


World-Class Tanker Safety System:
liability and compensation

Canada's liability and compensation regime for oil spills are based on the "polluter pays" principle, which means that the polluter is always responsible for paying for the cost of an oil spill clean up, including third party damages. This means that if a ship causes a spill, its owner is liable for losses and damages under federal legislation.

Furthermore, in accordance with international conventions, ship owners are subject to compulsory insurance to an amount which is linked to the tonnage of their vessel.  If the amount of damages exceeds the shipowner's liability, international and domestic funds provide additional compensation to a total amount of approximately $1.36 billion.

The Government of Canada is committed to reviewing Canada's liability and compensation regime and is taking further action to ensure that it has a world-class tanker safety system for shipping resources safely through Canada's waterways before any major new energy export infrastructure becomes operational.

The government will undertake a comprehensive review of the oil pollution liability and compensation regime associated with marine transportation spills, based on a risk assessment. The review will include examining the adequacy of the compensation available in the event of a spill and the relevant legislation will be updated to ensure a comprehensive oversight system that places the cost of paying for pollution with the polluter, not Canadian taxpayers.

This review, to be completed in fall 2013, will guide the Government of Canada as it modernizes the Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund, examining its overall application and use.

The concepts of polluter pays, international uniformity and shared liability between ship owners and cargo owners are cornerstones of the current liability and compensation regime, and will continue to be integral to it in the future. The review will ensure that those principles are applied in a way that protects Canadians and is consistent with current realities and that Canada continues to be a leader in this area.

March 2013

 

SOURCE Transport Canada



More by this Source


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

 

PR Newswire Membership

Fill out a PR Newswire membership form or contact us at (888) 776-0942.

Learn about PR Newswire services

Request more information about PR Newswire products and services or call us at (888) 776-0942.