Are oil spills on the St. Lawrence River a problem?

Are oil spills on the St. Lawrence River a problem?

There’s a lot of discussion in Canada these days about the danger of oil spills and the resulting environmental damage that may or may not create a problem with the arrival of what’s known as the “super-tankers”. Oil_TankerIt’s more of a concern in Quebec and British Columbia where two petroleum ports are being planned which will be directly on both ocean shores, Atlantic and Pacific.

For the port in Quebec, which will be built in Gros-Cacouna the concern is for methane gas leaks from either the port itself or from one of the tankers that will be carrying the product to Europe. The chances of a spill or accident however are quite slim if we look at some of the statistics from the installations which already exist in Lévis, just across the river from Quebec City.

In the past ten years no major incident has caused any environmental damage of any consequence in the St. Lawrence River even though there are approximately 80 tankers that visit the port of Lévis to load fuel every year. The only major spill that caused havoc was way back in 1970 off the coast of Nova Scotia, far from the place where the ship had first taken on its cargo of refined oil here in Quebec City.

There is some concern however, according to Guy Caron of the NDP that, Canada may not have the knowhow and or technology to clean up a major spill from one of those super-tankers, which transport on an average, 150,000 tons of oil. The actual clean-up capacity for the St. Lawrence River right now is 15,000 tons of spillage, which is only 10% of what the new ships will be moving around on a daily basis.

It is time to set up studies to deal with any future accidents that may occur either in Quebec or in BC, states M. Caron and suggests they take place now rather than wait for a catastrophe to happen.
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LifeinQuebec.com Staff Writer

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