Oceans Campaigner, Greenpeace
"Our oceans are connected and various species found in marine ecosystems off Canada’s coasts also call the Gulf of Mexico home for certain parts of the year. Once toxins enter the marine environment, they circulate throughout the ocean by currents that act as highways connecting different parts of our vast marine landscapes. At any point, these toxins will begin to move up the food chain. Ultimately, species migrating north from the Gulf will carry with them the toxic burden from the spill."
What policy recommendations would you make to mitigate those consequences?
"The sad reality with these types of spills is that once they happen, the damage is already done. Clean up efforts are complicated and all that crews can do is try to lessen the impact on coastal ecosystems and species. No 'clean-up' method even comes close to a silver bullet and some, such as dispersants, have their own consequences. The only real solution is to prevent these spills in the first place by placing a permanent moratorium on offshore drilling, and not allowing projects, such as the proposed twin Enbridge pipeline in B.C.’s sensitive Great Bear Rainforest, that allow fuel-laden supertankers to threaten our coasts. We must cut our addiction to oil and other dirty fuels and make a quick transition to clean and green energy."
- Canada has experienced its share of oil spills over the years. One of the largest spills of all time happened off Nova Scotia’s coast in 1988 when a tanker split in two.
- Usually only about 15-20 per cent of a spill can be cleaned up. The remaining 85-80 per cent enters the food chain and stays in the marine environment for decades.
- Whole populations of orca whales, salmon, herring, and other marine life off B.C.’s coast were wiped out by the Exxon Valdez spill. Environmentalists fear that Enbridge’s plan to build a 1,170km twin pipeline from Alberta’s oil sands to the B.C. coast will put the Pacific at risk of a comparable disaster. The terrain the pipeline will cross, which includes several rivers and avalanche-prone mountains, will also be vulnerable to major spills, they say.