Coast Guard, communities and governments come together to improve Arctic oil spill response | WWF-Canada

Coast Guard, communities and governments come together to improve Arctic oil spill response

Posted on 01 November 2017   |  
Supply ships in the Inuit community of Clyde River (also known as Kangiqtugaapik), Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.
© Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada
WWF-Canada and northern coastal community members will host representatives from the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, and members of B.C. First Nations and Alaskan Tribes this week to discuss how to improve oil spill response capacity in the North.
 
Following the release of several WWF-Canada reports in March 2017 detailing the state of oil spill response equipment, plans and regional capacity, the workshop was organized to find solutions before a major incident occurs.
 
Participants will have the opportunity to discuss priorities, roles and responsibilities for oil spill preparedness in the North. Discussion topics include:
  • Concerns about oil spill hazards and consequences in the northern environment.
  • Best practices for building community-based capacity for shipping emergencies.
  • Connecting shipping safety and oil-spill preparedness initiatives across all levels of government, industry and community stakeholders.
Talks will also focus on emerging research on the health and environmental impact of Arctic shipping air emissions and a possible phase-out of the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic. The Government of Canada and the International Maritime Organization have begun a process which could include phasing out HFO, which is likely to take place gradually over a number of years to give industry time to adapt.
 
How phasing out HFO will create a safer Arctic:
  • Of all marine fuel options, HFO is the most polluting and will cause the most damage in the event of a spill. 
  • HFO emulsifies on the water surface, whereas lighter fuels like liquid natural gas and diesel evaporate more easily. HFO’s sticky properties become problematic for seabirds and animals with fur, such as polar bears, often leading to hypothermia and death.
  • Though safer fuels, such as diesel, are more expensive, a WWF-Canada study has found that the increased cost to northerners for sealifts would be about one per cent annually.
 
Paul Crowley, VP Arctic for WWF-Canada, says:
“We’re already seeing a significant increase in ship traffic through Canada’s Arctic. There’s no time to waste to ensure our coastal communities are ready and able to respond when an oil spill threatens the fragile marine ecosystem and the wildlife and people who depend on it. By bringing all the necessary players to the same table, together we can learn from the experiences of Indigenous groups elsewhere in Canada and Alaska to improve oil spill response in Canada’s Arctic.”
 

About World Wildlife Fund Canada

WWF-Canada creates solutions to the environmental challenges that matter most for Canadians. We work in places that are unique and ecologically important, so that nature, wildlife and people thrive together. Because we are all wildlife. For more information, visit wwf.ca.
 

For further information

Megan Nesseth, communications specialist, mnesseth@wwfcanada.org, +1 416-904-2482
Supply ships in the Inuit community of Clyde River (also known as Kangiqtugaapik), Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada.
© Peter Ewins / WWF-Canada Enlarge

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