Canadian help for U.S. oil cleanup questioned
N.L. politicians say decision could leave province vulnerable
Politicians in Newfoundland and Labrador are questioning a federal government decision to send oil cleanup equipment from Canada to the U.S. to help with the disastrous spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The leader of the provincial opposition said Tuesday parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are vunerable to oil spills.
"Mr. Speaker, fishermen have stated that a spill in Placentia Bay could destroy their livelihoods," Liberal Leader Yvonne Jones said in the provincial house of assembly in St. John's.
Placentia Bay is a microcosm of the Gulf of Mexico. It's where oil tankers and fishing boats coexist. There is a bird sanctuary nearby.
The federal government is sending about three kilometres of oil booms from Canada to Mobile, Ala., to try to help contain the Gulf spill that began April 20. That's about half of the Canadian government's coastal supply of oil booms.
The provincial NDP leader also questioned the federal decision.
Loan won't put province at risk: minister
"Half of our capacity of containment boom is on route to the Gulf of Mexico," Lorraine Michael said.
"The containment boom is what is necessary in the case of a spill to keep oil from reaching the coastline. I would like to know from the minister, Mr. Speaker, if the province has been involved in this decision to have half of our boom capacity moved to the Gulf of Mexico."
Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Minister Charlene Johnson told the house of assembly Tuesday that she's confident the loan won't put the province at risk.
"Actually there's requirements in place that they can only [lend equipment] provided that there's enough capacity left behind to deal with a spill, should there be a spill," she said.
The federal government said it is also providing technical and scientific support in the Gulf, and more help could be forthcoming.
In Ottawa, Craig Stewart of the World Wildlife Fund questioned whether the neighbourly gesture will make a real difference.
"They have deployed 1,400 kilometres to try to stop the spill from reaching the shores of Louisiana and Alabama and that clearly hasn't been enough. So I'm not sure what they'll do with our remaining three kilometres to stop anything from reaching Canadian waters," he said.