Nfld. & Labrador

Oil spill response report ghastly: critic

A seabird expert says a new report on preventing and responding to major oil spills off eastern Newfoundland cannot be taken seriously.

A seabird expert says a new report on preventing and responding to major oil spills off eastern Newfoundland cannot be taken seriously.

"The report just doesn't have credibility for me," Ian Jones, a biology professor at Memorial University in St. John's, said Friday.

A new report has found that Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore oil industry is not prepared for a catastrophic spill. (CBC )

Jones was responding to a lengthy report the Newfoundland and Labrador government released Thursday by Mark Turner, a master mariner who found the oil industry and the government bodies that regulate it are not prepared for a catastrophic spill of oil. [Read the full report here.]

Despite that finding and other revelations about shortcomings in the industry, Jones said the report does not go far enough in investigating what might happen in the wake of a major environmental crisis.

For instance, he said the report "barely mentioned" the impact on migratory seabirds that fly in the area.

"Mitigation is mentioned, but it's mentioned as bird rescue and rehabilitation, the idea that somehow you can clean these oily birds," Jones told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"No self-respecting seabird research scientist would advocate this as a means of responding to a major oil spill, to mitigate damage to bird populations."

Jones also said he was astounded to read Turner's positive assessment of the work of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, which was seriously criticised during the unrelated Wells inquiry into offshore helicopter safety.

Jones called Turner "well-meaning" but too closely attached to the industry to provide an independent perspective. 

"We are not good. We are not prepared for any kind of an oil spill here," he said.

"We've got a situation of negligence and incompetence by the regulator and by the government. I just get livid when I hear this stuff." 

now