Environmental organizations against Placentia piloting changes

Western Canadian environmental groups believe changes will cause oil spill

Melissa Jenkins melissa.jenkins@tc.tc
Published on January 26, 2015
Arnold's Cove Wharf, where the Atlantic Pilotage Authority vessels operate from.
Photo by Melissa Jenkins/The Compass

Late last year, a proposed change to where pilots would board ships in Placentia Bay was scrutinized by local and federal politicians.

Now, western Canada's Living Oceans Society, an organization that encourages safe and healthy oceans, and the Sierra Club BC, an environmental organization, are putting the issue back in the spotlight.

In a news release today, Karen Wristen with Living Oceans and Caitlyn Vernon of the Sierra Club voiced concerns with moving a boarding station from 28 miles from shore to 16 miles.

These organizations have previously spoken out against the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker project, and are now taking a stance against the Placentia Bay proposal.

The area has been previously deemed the most likely area in Canada to have an oil spill. With the change in pilot boarding stations, the risk could be greater, according to various critics.

Placentia Bay is the busiest port for tanker traffic in Canada.

A meeting was held in the Placentia region last fall for stakeholders, including government representatives, oil and gas company management and employees of the Placentia Bay area. No updates have been given since that meeting.

But now, Living Oceans and the Sierra Club have brought the issue back to the forefront.

Vernon compared the current situation playing out in Placentia Bay to what could possibly happen on the west coast of Canada.

“If the federal government is willing to roll back critical protection to speed up tanker traffic for oil companies, then what hope can we have that Enbridge will be required to live up to their promises in the Great Bear Sea?” she said in the release.

In a previous article published in The Compass Oct. 28, 2014, the Canadian Marine Pilots Association spoke out against the proposed changes.

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority is responsible for the proposal, and has confirmed a pilotage risk management methodology from a third party will determine the decision.

A timeframe has not been determined on when or if these changes will come into effect.