Oil Tanker Spill Threatens the Minas Basin

Energy East is a 4,500-kilometre pipeline proposed to carry 1.1-million barrels of crude oil per day from Alberta and Saskatchewan to Saint John. From there it will be shipped down the Atlantic Coast by huge oil tankersProponents for Energy East claim Atlantic Canada need the jobs and the work would usher in a new era of prosperity. It’s estimated to provide 14,000 direct and indirect full-time jobs. These numbers represent jobs Canada wide, not just Atlantic Canada. The extra jobs for Maritimers outside of New Brunswick is practically non-existent.

Former Nova Scotia MP Coline Campbell says “people in Nova Scotia need to pay more attention to the Energy East Pipeline project and the risk it poses for the Bay of Fundy and communities all along it.” This includes communities along the Minas basin. When there is an oil spill from one of the tankers, the currents and rough tides will draw it into the Minas Basin. As Campbell explains, “If we have an oil spill in the Bay of Fundy the tides could take that up to Moncton, to the Minas Basin – our waters aren’t calm,” she says. “This could affect tourism, our fishing industry, communities up and down the coast and we aren’t hearing from our elected officials about this at all.”

The tanker traffic will increase which will put the count up close to 300 of these tankers, traveling through the bay. It only takes one accident…

According to a report, Energy East Project Volume 24: Ecological and Human Health Risk Assessment for Oil Spills in the Marine Environment, the Saint John ” marine terminal is expected to receive approximately 281 tanker calls per year for shipping of crude oil products originating from western Canada. The assumed tanker distribution is 70 Aframax, 175 Suezmax and 36 VLCC tankers per year. Only double-hulled tankers will be allowed to call at the marine terminal.

In 1970, early in the morning of February 4th, there was an oil tanker spill in Chedabucto Bay. It was carrying Bunker C oil which is used mostly for ships and industrial use. The ship lost about half of its load which would be around 50 thousand barrels. One source said, “Counties effected by the Arrow oil spill developed their livelihoods around the fishing industry, and it is without question the spill would affect the areas main sources of income such as; the fish, lobster, and scallops. These are only a few species affected by the spill and this altered the residents’ livelihoods it is fair to say anything that came in contact with the oil was disturbed. For example, birds that came into contact with the spill were completely covered with oil and caused a large number of deaths.

The clams and mussels died first and the lobsters were contaminated for years. You can learn a bit about this tragedy from the video below. The spill claimed 190 miles of shoreline, and is still partly polluted today.

Although a lot of people may not remember the Chedabucto Bay spill, but the damage from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion that most will remember on April 20, 2010 is still being felt today. An article on Newsweek, Oct 10, 2016, tells how many residents are sick from odd symptoms that “include migraines, skin rashes, bloody diarrhea, bouts of pneumonia, nausea, seizures, muscle cramps, profound depression and anxiety, severe mental fuzziness and even blackouts.”

It dumped 4.2 million barrels of oil — a lot more than what a tanker can hold, but some of these VLCC tankers can hold up to two million barrels and the Minas basin isn’t near as huge as the Gulf Coast. To clean it up, the officials used 1.8 million gallons of Corexit, which has been reported to cause more damage than the oil would have.

“Exposure to organic solvents causes the same intellectual effect as lead poisoning,” says Dr. Michael Harbut, a professor at Michigan State University and an environmental and occupational health expert who served as a consultant for the plaintiffs on the medical class-action suit filed against BP. Among those who were most heavily exposed, he warns, “we’ll see chronic adverse health effects, including liver and kidney disease, birth defects and developmental disorders. Over time, we’ll see a bump in certain cancers that are related to industrial solvents, such as leukemia, lymphomas and lung and skin cancers.”

Over the course of a single year, 328 million barrels of tar sands oil could be moved by tanker down the east coast. There will be spills and accidents. On Oct. , 2016 it was reported a “tug and barge that carries petroleum products to and from Alaska through B.C.’s Inside Passage has run aground near Bella Bella, off the coast of B.C. Fortunately, the coast guard said the 287-foot long fuel barge was empty, but the 100-foot tug itself was leaking diesel fuel. People on the scene at noon said that the tug was half under water and on its way to sinking completely.”

What do you think would happen if one of these huge tankers started leaking oil and as Campbell explains? “If we have an oil spill in the Bay of Fundy the tides could take that up to Moncton, to the Minas Basin – our waters aren’t calm,” she says. “This could affect tourism, our fishing industry and communities up and down the coast…”