Canada's environment commissioner is questioning whether the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB) and oil companies are doing enough to prepare for a major offshore oil spill.
Scott Vaughan's final report as auditor of federal environment regulations was tabled today in the House of Commons.
He singled out the C-NLOPB as a concern.
Vaughan said he was not convinced that the board has enough financial guarantees from the oil companies working in Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore to clean up such a spill.
He added that the board and its federal partners do not have a co-ordinated plan to deal with a spill.
"Know what you're supposed to do," said Vaughan. "I mean, it's not in the middle of an accident you're trying to figure out who has the jurisdiction and who has the role and the mandate."
"We know that there's a boom in natural resources in this country," Vaughan continued. "And I think what we need now, given the gaps, given the problems we found, is a boom in environmental protection in this country as well."
Board begs to differ
Max Ruelokke, the CEO of the C-NLOPB, said he believes the board and the oil companies are prepared.
"There's no doubt that spills could be responded, and would be responded to," said Ruelokke.
"We're dealing with world-class operators in our offshore area, so we got ExxonMobil, Suncor and Husky. And we're not concerned that they wouldn't have the ability to be able to sustain themselves if they had to respond."
Ruelokke admitted there has been a lack of co-ordination between the board and its federal partners over roles and responsibilities, but he said the departments have worked well together in the past during incidents.
He also said the C-NLOPB's main focus is to prevent oil spills from happening.