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Transcript of CBC Victoria "All Points West" Radio Interview

Transcript of CBC Victoria "All Points West" Radio Interview

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Transcript of a radio interview I did Thursday, July 26, 2012 on CBC Victoria's "All Points West" with host Jo-Ann Roberts re BC's quest for a "world class" marine oil spill response regime.
Transcript of a radio interview I did Thursday, July 26, 2012 on CBC Victoria's "All Points West" with host Jo-Ann Roberts re BC's quest for a "world class" marine oil spill response regime.

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Published by: WorldoceanConsulting on Aug 22, 2012
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Dr. Gerald Graham, President of Worldocean Consulting Ltd, Interviewed by Jo-Ann Roberts, Host of 
CBC Radio’s “All Points West” Show in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada,
Thursday, July 26, 2012 re
BC’s Aspirations for a “World Class” Marine Oil Spill Response Regime
. Click here for a link to a podcast of the interview.
 Jo-Ann
: On Monday, the BC Government released five minimum requirements for it to considersupporting the Northern Gateway
pipeline. One of those demands is what they’re calling “world
-leading
oil spill response prevention and recovery systems” on BC’s coast. The Government’s report goes on to
acknowledge
that, and I’m quoting here: “Existing provincial and federal spill management capacityappears to be insufficient for current needs.”I’m joined in studio now by Gerald Graham. He’s a marine oil spill expert, and he has reviewedEnbridge’s pipeline appli
cation for two clients who are opposed to the project. Good afternoon, Graham( sic ).
Gerald 
: Hi, Jo-Ann!
 Jo-Ann
: What do you make of the Government’s assessment, that our marine spill capacity isn’t even
sufficient for the current tanker traffic?
Gerald 
: I agree with them. I think that it’s quite a good analysis, actually, of the current situation. It hadto be said and it’s kind of odd that they would pick this time to say it within the context of the Enbridge
Northern Gateway debate-
when they don’t even focus on the application itself. But, they’ve really hit
the nail on the head-
there’s this severe shortfall here in our capacity to deal with spills on the coast,even if we don’t have these tanker projects going ahead.
 
 Jo-Ann
: What do you think their goal is in bringing it up at this point, then? I mean, even if Enbridge
doesn’t go ahead, it certainly sounds like they think something has to be done.
 
Gerald 
: Yes, well, it’s a well
-known fact within the oil spill community- the oil spill response community,that BC and Ottawa are really at loggerheads when it comes to marine oil spills. The system, although it
hasn’t reall
y been severely tested by a huge spill, most experts agree that the system is pretty welldysfunctional and it needs to be revamped: i
t’s out of date, it’s over twenty years old now, and it’s
simply, probably will not work if there is a major catastrophic spill here along the coast.
 Jo-Ann
: So, do you think BC may be trying to convince Ottawa by going public that they should put somemoney into this- that the federal government should be putting money into it?
Gerald 
: Yes, and it comes at a time when they
are of course cutting back. But it’s more: it goes beyond
that-
it’s more than just putting money into it. It’s a question o
f reorganiz
ing the whole thing; it’s
just anunworkable system where the Province feels left out of the decision-making structure, the FederalGovernment jealously guards its mandate and responsibilities, and, you know, we have had some
 
incidents in the past where it
 just hasn’t worked. We’ve had two command centers set up, for instance,for various spills, and it’s just not productive.
 
 Jo-Ann
: Let’s talk about where it is working. The BC Government says Alaska is a good example of some
world-leading oil spill standar
ds. How do our current standards in Canada compare to Alaska’s?
 
Gerald 
: Our current standards are way behind the Alaskan requirements for spill response. There, theyhave a requirement that the tanker companies have to have the capacity to deal with a 300,000 barrelspill. In Canada, the requirement is for about 80,000 barrels. Now, Enbridge has voluntarily pledged to
put in place a capacity for about 160,000 barrels, but that’s still below the Alaskan standards.
 
 Jo-Ann
: So, only about half of the Alaskan standards, even if Enbridge was to sort of beef things up, is
what you’re saying.
 
Gerald 
: That’s right, and half the escort tugs and no salvage tug. So, we’ve got a long way to go, and, of 
note, when Enbridge made their big announcement last week of 500 million dollars to improve safety,after the Kalamazoo spill, all of that goes into the pipeline- nothing is dedicated, no new resources tothe marine side of things.
 Jo-Ann
: So how- if the Government were to ask, how do you meet some of the requirements that
they’re setting out. Or, try and work towards getting to an Alaskan standard? Is it
- do you put legislationin place? Do you put pressure on the companies? Do you go after the feds? How do, who do you goafter to try and get everyone to take part in
making sure that we’re safe?
 
Gerald 
: Well, I think one of the things that the Province, the provincial report does pinpoint is that you
can’t just rely on companies and
the industry to come up with voluntary standards. You have to have aregulatory system
that has mandatory requirements. And that’s where our current system is deficient.
One example: the requirement right now in the event of a spill on the coast is to clean up 500 metres of shoreline a day. Well, as the BC report points out, in the case of the Exxon Valdez spill, with all thecoastline that was affected in Alaska, it would have taken ten years to clean up all the shoreline at that
rate. So, obviously, we’ve got some work to do, and that’s just one example.
 
 Jo-Ann
: Are you encouraged that the BC Government has made this one of their, sort of, five planks inthis platform to move ahead on the Northern Gateway?
Gerald 
: Well, I have mixed feelings about it, because I’m not quite sure whether they’re doing it to get
the project approved or get it, get it rejected. I think there, it might provide a false sense of security thatif you took all these measures that they propose, and then if we did have a world class spill responseregime in place on the BC coast- that we would still, that we would be pr
otected. I think we’d still be
overexposed, particularly on the North Coast, because of the remoteness, the logistical challenges, theextreme weather. All the amount of oil spill capacity in the world is not going to be able to help you if 
you can’t get i
t out of the port in the middle of winter.
 Jo-Ann
: And yet. Even if the Northern Gateway pipeline didn’t go ahead, we’re now getting thisinformation because we’re paying more attention. We still have a number of tankers going in and out of 

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