SHELBURNE, N.S. – Is Nova Scotia at risk of being a Deepwater Horizon disaster?
That is the question being posed during a “hard-hitting coastal speaking tour” being hosted by the Council of Canadians in the province this month. The council says the sessions will be “providing evidence of the serious risks offshore drilling presents to sustainable fisheries, tourism, clean water and our climate.”
BP Canada Energy Group ULC (BP) recently received the federal stamp of approval for a deep-water drilling exploration project in the Scotian Basin that could see as many as seven wells drilled in waters 230 to 370 kilometres off the southeast coast along the Scotian Shelf between 2018 and 2022 (Exploration Licences 2431, 2432, 2433, and 2434).
“Not enough people understand how close we are to offshore drilling in our waters,” says Marion Moore, chair of the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), which is helping to organize the tour. “The consultation process for BP’s licence was totally insufficient and many of the safety concerns we raised are unanswered. This tour is an opportunity to hear from people with experience and knowledge with offshore oil spills and the offshore waters we want to protect.”
BP is the same company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster. Guest speaker on the tour is Antonia Juhasz, an award-winning investigative journalist and author of Black Tide: the Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill. Juhasz will speak about the causes and consequences of the Gulf spill and policy choices that enabled it as well as BP’s corporate role.
“My investigation onboard Atlantis and in the Alvin submarine revealed that an estimated 30 million gallons of oil from the BP spill remain in the Gulf — the equivalent of nearly three Exxon Valdez spills — and that about half of this amount has settled on the ocean floor,” says Juhasz. “It is the most toxic parts of the oil which remain and will likely stay there forever, with ecological effects that could be devastating.”
Colin Sproul of Digby County, a fifth-generation lobster fisherman and spokesperson for the Bay of Fundy Inshore Fishers’ Association, will speak to the importance of the sustainable fisheries and nature of Nova Scotian waters. Juhasz and Sproul will be joined by a Council of Canadians representative and a local speaker.
The speaking tour starts in Halifax on March 20 from 7-9:30 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.) at Saint Mary's University, Scotiabank Theatre, Sobey Building, 923 Robie St.
On March 21 the venue is the Shelburne Regional High School, 415 Woodlawn Drive, Shelburne, from 7-9:30 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.).
The tour concludes in Lunenburg on March 22 at the Lunenburg Fire Department, 25 Medway Street, from 7-9:30 p.m. (doors open 6:30 p.m.).
The tour is organized by the Council of Canadians and the Campaign to Protect Offshore Nova Scotia (CPONS), supported by the Sierra Club of Canada Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and the Clean Ocean Action Committee (COAC). There is free admission.