Thirteen key stakeholder organizations, including representatives from the railway, petroleum, transportation and business sectors, are meeting face-to-face today to begin building what will become a made-in-B.C., world-leading spill response plan.
Foundational to the discussion will be the provincial government’s recently released policy intentions paper
, which outlines how government will work with industry to establish a world-leading spill response regime that deals with all hazardous materials spills that may occur on land in B.C. Today’s meeting is the first of several discussions between government and industry to lay the groundwork for future policy development.
The Ministry of Environment receives approximately 3,500 notifications of environmental emergencies per year;
this includes oil-tank leaks, home-based oil spills, overturned tanker trucks, oil and fuel spills on water, rail accidents and chemical spills.
While approximately 90 per cent of these are considered minor, the projected increase in the movement of hazardous materials throughout B.C. necessitates a well-co-ordinated response and preparedness plan.
Environment Minister Terry Lake will give an overview presentation on the intentions paper, highlighting the need for policy change in support of a full polluter-pay system where the costs associated with a spill rests with business and industry and not taxpayers. Among the topics discussed will be spill management in neighbouring coastal jurisdictions that include key concepts such as: industry funding into government program budgets and spill response funds, increased emergency-response staff and membership in a collective spill-response organization.
Representatives from each of the 13 stakeholder organizations will then be given an opportunity to give direct input on the content of the paper to government.
The 13 organizations represented at today’s roundtable include:
· Canadian Fuels Association
· Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
· Canadian Energy Pipeline Association
· Railway Association of Canada
· Chemistry Industry Association of Canada
· BC Oil and Gas Commission
· Transport Canada
· Environment Canada
· Canadian Coast Guard
· Chamber of Shipping British Columbia
· BC Business Council
· BC Environmental Industry Association
· BC Trucking Association
The industry organizations represent the sectors responsible for the transportation, storage, and use of significant volumes of hazardous materials which present risk to public safety and the environment should a spill occur.
Engagement and discussion on the intentions paper will continue between ministry staff and industry representatives.
Comments received in these meetings, as well as through the web-based consultations, will be summarized and posted on the ministry’s website.
A land-based spill prevention and response symposium is planned for March 25-27 in Vancouver.
Here, spill-response experts from around the world will give presentations and discuss best practices to build and shape B.C.’s policy going forward.
Terry Lake, Minister of Environment –
“Our number-one priority is to protect the environment, and we know how important this is to British Columbians, as evidenced by the response to public hearings on NGP.
This is why we are not stopping at the establishment of five key conditions for heavy oil pipelines, and are developing world-leading policy that deals with all land-based hazardous materials spills including those from trucks, railcars, home oil tanks and chemical spills.
Today’s meeting and the future symposium represent a great opportunity for industry to demonstrate to its customers, clients, shareholders and the public its commitment to sustainability.”
Rich Coleman, Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas –
“Our government has shown leadership when it comes to safety practices in protecting our environment. Working with major stakeholders, we must strengthen oversight and management as we look at the prospects of new industrial projects coming forward.
Together, we are working to keep B.C.’s coastline and wildlife safe.”
Michael Bourque, president and CEO, Railway Association of Canada –
“The Railway Association of Canada is anxious to work co-operatively with the government of British Columbia and other stakeholders on its spill preparedness and response regime for land-based spills.
Regardless of which mode is used to transport crude oil and other regulated commodities, transporters must be prepared and capable of doing so responsibly and safely.”
Brian Ahearn, vice president, Western Division, Canadian Fuels Association –
“We endorse this review by the B.C. government. It is consistent with our members’ commitment to safe handling of petroleum fuels that reflects best practices, including emergency preparedness plans and response capabilities.
Canadian Fuels members continually strive for leading-edge industry performance with a focus on continuously improving environmental, health and safety performance of all facets of their operations.”
· The policy intentions paper “Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response in British Columbia” builds on one of the five requirements the B.C. government has set out as being necessary for support of heavy-oil projects – world-leading practices for land-oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines.
· The key elements outlined in the paper include:
- Establishing a world-leading regime for land-based spill preparedness and response.
- Developing effective and efficient rules for restoration of the environment following a spill.
- Ensuring effective government oversight and co-ordination of industry spill response.
- The Ministry of Environment is currently requesting an abstract for possible presentations at the March symposium; the deadline for submissions is Jan. 25.
- The symposium will bring together people and organizations from diverse backgrounds who all have an interest in seeing a strong spill response program in B.C. – representatives from government, First Nations, industry, response organizations, key stakeholders, environmental organizations and academia from around the world are expected to participate in the symposium.
- B.C.’s Environmental Emergency Program currently has 16 full-time staff and about $2.4 million per year in dedicated funding. In the event of a major spill, the program can also draw on support from technical specialists from, and funded by, other government programs.
- The Environmental Emergency Program covers the inland areas and coastal shoreline of B.C. (an area of 947,800 kilometres squared, with a coastline of 27,000 kilometres).
Land Based Spill Preparedness and Response in British Columbia: Policy Intentions Paper for Consultation: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/codes/spr_eep/response.htm