Canada to Formalize Crude Oil Tanker Moratorium on British Columbia’s North Coast

Moratorium map. Image Courtesy: Transport Canada

The government of Canada will introduce legislation by spring 2017 to formalize a moratorium for crude oil tankers on British Columbia’s (BC) north coast.

The moratorium will cover the Great Bear Rainforest/Great Bear Sea area, covering an area from the Alaska/BC border down to the point on BC’s mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and this includes Haida Gwaii.

The new legislation will prohibit oil tankers carrying crude oil or persistent oil products as cargo from entering or leaving ports and marine installations in this area.

This measure will complement the existing voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone, which has been in place since 1985.

The moratorium will apply to the shipment of crude oils as defined by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) and this will be set in the legislation.

It will also apply to related oil products that are heavier and, when spilled, break up and dissipate slowly. A complete list of these persistent products included in the moratorium will be outlined in a schedule to the legislation. The list of scheduled products could be amended in the future through the regulatory process based on the evolution of science and technology.

Oil products included in the moratorium will be, among other, partially upgraded bitumen, synthetic crude oil, pitch, slack wax, and bunker C fuel oil.

The moratorium will not apply to the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG), gasoline, naphtha, jet fuel, and propane, among other products.

Vessels carrying less than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil or persistent oil products as cargo will be exempted from the moratorium to allow local communities and industries to continue to receive these goods.

The legislation would include an enforcement regime and penalty provisions. Penalties will be commensurate with the scale of violation and could reach up to CAD 5 million.

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