2018-07-04

Open letter applies pressure to BP’s N.S. drilling operation



A coalition of more than 25 organizations have sent an open letter to Catherine McKenna, the federal Minister for Environment and Climate Change, calling on her to halt offshore drilling near the Sable Island National Park Reserve.

"BP has been drilling for only two months and has already had a significant spill. This should be setting off alarms for people everywhere," John Davis of the Clean Oceans Action Committee, said in a release.

The Clean Oceans Action Committee represents 9,000 Nova Scotians who make a living in the fisheries. "We know the conditions of our offshore waters and know these and other risks were underestimated by BP. Now we have an expert confirming this. It's time to reconsider this approval to drill," Davis said.

BP spilled some 136,000 litres of drilling mud at its well site some 300 kilometres off the South Shore coast in mid-June .

The letter calls on McKenna to revisit the approval of BP's application in light of new expert evidence that the project's risks were not fully assessed.

"We are writing as a united voice to urge you to halt BP's offshore drilling near Sable Island National Park Reserve in Nova Scotia.," reads the letter. "As the Minister responsible, you need to revisit the approval of BP's application in light of new expert evidence that the project's risks were not fully assessed."

Signatories to the letter include the David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, The Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and Leadnow, among others.

The letter cites Dr. Robert Bea's recent editorial in the National Observer. Bea is a Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, co-director and founder of the university's Center for Catastrophic Risk Management and studied BP's Macondo well blowout disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The letter notes that Bea likens BP's Nova Scotian plans with the company's 2016 proposal to drill exploratory wells in the Great Australian Bight (GAB). "Following his and other expert reviews of the risks associated with an uncontrolled blowout, the Australian government imposed further measures to develop 'As Low As Reasonably Practicable' (ALARP) risk management requirements including a near drilling location blowout preventer capping stack and relief well drilling unit,'" the letter cites.

As a result BP withdrew its proposals to drill offshore Australia.

The missive concludes: " As the Minister that approved BP's application, you have a responsibility to halt BP's drilling offshore Nova Scotia and reassess this approval in light of Dr Bea's concerns."

In a statement, Karel Mayrand, director general of Quebec, David Suzuki Foundation, added: "We must protect the oceans and minimize risks to our coasts. It is more than reasonable now to reconsider this approval, and ensure keeping our waters as clean as possible is a priority."

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