More Cuts to Capacity to Handle Oil Spills on BC Coast

The curtailment of the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s Centre for Off-shore Oil, Gas, and Energy Research (COOGER) is a dangerous setback for the safety and integrity of the coastline and environment of British Columbia, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, MP Saanich-Gulf Islands warned today.
“Curtailing COOGER is especially shocking given the Harper Conservatives’ plan to allow super-tankers in the Hecate Strait, the fourth most dangerous body of water on the planet,” said May.  “These cuts will pull the plug on research into the threats of oil and gas to the Hecate Strait.  COOGER has been studying the impacts of oil and gas leaks, counter-measures for an oil spill, restoration of environment after a spill, and the impacts of oil exploration on aquatic life, among other key issues specifically in the Hecate Strait.”
Other outrageous cuts are being made to Canada’s fleet of world-renowned scientists and it looks like the oil and gas industry will be the beneficiary, May charged.  “Every day we hear of more and more top-notch scientists being given a pink-slip and highly important programs cancelled.  It is really alarming.”
A team of Environment Canada smokestack pollution and monitoring specialists is slated for elimination.  “The Integrated Oil Sands Monitoring Plan has demonstrated clearly the importance of smokestack measurements – and now the very people who have the expertise to implement this plan are being let go,” said May. “Do the Harper Conservatives intend to abandon their monitoring plan?”
“What is evident is that the Harper Conservatives are blasting ahead with oil and gas development, both off-shore and in the oil sands while cutting any capacity we have to monitor pollution and deal with disasters.  This loss of scientific minds in our government will have long lasting negative repercussions,” said May.
Other recent cuts include:

  • Regional offices of Environment Canada’s Environmental Emergency Programme with only one office in Quebec left.
  • Ten Coast Guard operations, including the Search and Rescue Operation in Vancouver, plus marine communication operations in Kitsilano, Comox, and Tofino – affecting the ability of the Coast Guard to monitor and deal with marine pollution offences.
  • The entire contaminants programme within Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
  • Nearly all of the DFO scientists studying marine toxicology across Canada – 75 scientists.

“The Harper Conservatives are out of control with their slashing of our country’s capacity to do any scientific monitoring or research.  These decisions will have a direct impact on the safety and health of Canadians and have the potential to be devastating for our environment,” said May.