The ice-strengthened (Danish) Nordic Orion made history in 2013 when it hauled 15,000 tonnes of coal to Finland from Vancouver through waters that were once impenetrable ice. The WWF rport shows that if an accident and fuel spill happens, Canada is not prepared to properly deal with it.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Nordic Bulk Carriers

WWF study finds gaping holes in ability to respond to Arctic ship fuel spills

..response plans rely on capacities and methods that may not  exist or cannot be adapted in remote communities to respond to a ship-based spill. WWF

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has released a report on the ability of Canada to deal with ship’s fuel oil spills in the Arctic.

With global warming and the resultant ice-free areas in the Northwest Passage,, there are more and more ships travelling through the region. From cargo ships, to ships serving mine sites, to huge tourist ships.

The WWF studies point out a large number of problems and inabilities to deal with fuel oil spills. These include

  • -only a few communities have access to even basic fuel spill reponse equipment, some have no equipment at all
  • -those that do say it’s irregularly checked,  too few are trained to use it, and some communities don’t have the key to access stored Coast Guard response equipment
  • -Arctic conditions (darkness and/or harsh weather limit the effectiveness of response equipment and often prevent any response at all.
  • -remote locations/ vast distances mean response times cen be ten times longer than those in the south
  • – Lack of reliable communications infrastructure makes it difficult for communities to call for assistance, and for responders to communicate with those on land during an oil-spill response
  • The MV Clipper Adventurer ran into a rock shelf while travelling near Kugluktuk, Nunavut in 2010. Its owners sued the Crown for more than $13 million in damages, claiming they were not warned about the shelf, but were not successful. The WWF report recommends clearly identified and recommended shipping lanes to avoid obstacles and enivronmentalloy sensitive areas © The Canadian Press

The report says the Canadian Coast Guard is the primary agency to deal with spill response and in areas where a  “Community (response) Pack” is available it is only designed to respond to very minor spills of up to one tonne. These include anywhere from 400m to 1 kilometre of boom, a skimmer, small aluminium boat, a skimmer, and rakes and shovels.

The WWF report studied response capability in many Arctic communities, and found gaping holes in the ability to respond to a fuel spill © WWF

The largest equipment available anywhere in the Arctic (at Tuktoyatuk and Iqaluit) can recover only up to 1,000 tonnes of oil, whereas tanker supply vessels and large ships themselves hold several thousand tonnes of fuel. Communities with recovery materal also have a storage tank for recovered fuel. However the report notes that although Tuk and Iqaluit could in theory recover up to 1,000 tonnes of spill fuel, the storage tank capacity in Tuktoyaktuk is limited to 275 tonnes.

WWF staff and volunteers practicing the use of a boom to catch oil spills on water at the NordNorsk Beredskapssenter in Fiskebol, a training centre where people learn how to clean up oil and gas spills in water and along the coast. Lofoten Islands, Nordland, Norway. The Canadian report notes that boom use may be limited in the Canadian Arctic due to many storms. Amount of boom material was also limited. © © Ronny Frimann/Zine.No- WWF report

The report goes on to list numerous other problems. Where equipment exists, it’s not certain it even works as it’s seldom checked, to potential inability to even access the equipment behind locked Coast Guard storage areas. There is also concern about the lack of trained people available in the small communities to properly use the equipment.

The Coast Guard could help but only has three icebreakers for the whole of the Northwest passage covering thousands of kilometres, and even with good conditions, a ship’s arrival would be long after the event.

Environmental conditions also pose major problems, from the long winter darkness, to presence of ice, to often stormy weather which would make it harder to see the spills in the dark, or even use the booms in stormy weather.

An Arctic shipping oil spill would devastate the surrounding marine environment, including the destruction of habitat for polar bears, seals, walrus, sea birds, as well as beluga, narwhal and bowhead  whales. These consequences would be mainly borne by the communities, not the responsible parties. World Wildlife Fund

In 2016 the huge cruise ship Crystal Serenity made a trip through the Northwest Passage. With increasingly long ice free seasons, more big ship traffic is travelling through Arctic waters, with increased risk of accidents © Chris Corday-CBC

The report makes several recommendations including the phase-out and eventual ban on heavy fuel oil (HFO) a tar-like fuel also known as bunker which in addition to being nearly impossible to clean in an Arctic environment, is also a heavy emitter of soot and other air pollution.

It also recommends that laws be instituted to require Arctic ships to carry their own equipment for initial response to mitigate the much longer response times of other help in the Arctic situation.

It also makes a number of other recommendations including greater participation of Arctic residents in decision-making, and increased training for local residents, along with more and better response equipment throughout the vast region,

additional information-sources

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Animals, Economy, Environment, Indigenous, International, Lifestyle, Politics, Science and Technology, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*