Nfld. & Labrador

Ship mishap raises red flag for Placentia mayor

The mayor of Placentia says a recent shipping mishap is evidence that more must be done to make sure an oil spill disaster doesn't happen in eastern Newfoundland.
The Reykjafoss in an archival photograph. It ran aground near Argentia, N.L., in late April 2011.

The mayor of Placentia says a recent shipping mishap is evidence that more must be done to make sure an oil spill disaster doesn't happen in eastern Newfoundland.

The MV Reykjafoss ran aground on April 29 just outside of Argentia.

The cargo vessel was travelling from Halifax to Iceland. No one was injured and no environmental damage was reported.

Mayor Bill Hogan fears what might happen if an oil tanker ran into similar trouble.

"My god, it would be a catastrophe. What happened with the [Exxon] Valdez would be a cakewalk compared to what would happen in Placentia Bay. The bay would be filled with oil … the outcome would be catastrophic," said Hogan Wednesday.

Placentia Bay, southwest of St. John's, is home to the North Atlantic Oil Refinery at Come By Chance and a transshipment terminal at Whiffen Head, which handles oil from the Grand Banks east of St. John's.

Hogan said the large volume of marine traffic in Placentia Bay puts the area at great risk for damage from an oil spill. He said the federal government should have an safety management plan

Hogan said the Reykjafoss did not have a local pilot aboard — even though it had the option of asking for one. He said it should be a mandatory part of a safety plan for ships entering Placentia Bay.

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