Published On: Wednesday, 31 January 2018

BC Plans New Measures to Protect Environment from Spills

BC Plans New  Measures to Protect Environment from Spills
Protection of the BC coastline and other environmentally sensitive areas is the goal of new regulations now under discussion.

BC - The provincial government proposes a second phase of regulations to improve preparedness, response, and recovery from potential spills.

The first phase of the regulations, approved in October 2017, established a standard of preparedness, response and recovery necessary to protect BC’s environment. With some exceptions for BC oil and gas regulated entities, the Phase-1 regulations apply to pipelines transporting any quantity of liquid petroleum products, and rail or trucking operations transporting over 10,000 litres of liquid petroleum products.

For the second phase, the Province will be looking for feedback in five areas:

  1. Response times, to ensure timely responses following a spill;
  2. Geographic response plans, to ensure resources are available to support an immediate response, while taking into account unique characteristics of a given sensitive area;
  3. Compensation for loss of public and cultural use of land, resources or public amenities in the case of spills;
  4. Maximizing application of regulations to marine spills; and
  5. Restrictions on the increase of diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) transportation until the behaviour of spilled bitumen can be better understood and there is certainty that spills can be mitigated.

“The people of B.C. need to know that there is effective spill management across the province and, in particular, for our most environmentally sensitive areas, including coastlines,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

“We believe spills should not happen. But if hazardous pollutants have potential to spill, our government will ensure that spillers must be prepared and able to fully mitigate the environmental damage before they proceed.”

An independent scientific advisory panel will be established to make recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy on if and how heavy oils can be safely transported and cleaned up, if spilled.

“The potential for a diluted bitumen spill already poses significant risk to our inland and coastal environment and the thousands of existing tourism and marine harvesting jobs,” Heyman said.

Feedback on the proposed regulations from First Nations will be sought as soon as possible. To ensure the views of the broad range of stakeholders are heard, government will also meet with industry, local governments, and environmental groups over the coming weeks and months.

As well, the general public will be able to provide input online through written comments, once an intentions paper is released. The intentions paper will provide an overview of the proposed regulations, and is expected to be posted before the end of February 2018.