No guarantees against major oil spill, feds acknowledge

CanWest News Service
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Federal regulators acknowledged today that they can't make guarantees Canada is protected from offshore drilling accidents on the scale of the recent incident in the Gulf of Mexico.
"No safety regulator can possibly say that an accident will never happen," Gaetan Caron, president and CEO of the National Energy Board, told MPs at special hearings on Parliament Hill about offshore drilling.
Under a grilling from NDP natural resources critic Nathan Cullen and other federal politicians, Caron said that the regulator is reviewing its practices as a result of the recent British Petroleum incident off the U.S. coast.
"Two weeks ago, we didn't know what an accident like this looked like in the Gulf of Mexico," said Caron. "Now we know."
Opposition MPs, who have also invited representatives from British Petroleum to testify at the hearings, raised concerns about whether the board's procedure for approving drilling has been weakened by moving from rules and regulations, to goal-oriented guidelines.
"If the situation is OK now then why are you doing a review of your process?" asked Liberal natural resources critic Geoff Regan.
The government has said Canada's system is among the most-respected in the world, with safeguards to prevent accidents in Canada.
Caron responded that the goal-oriented framework provides flexibility as opposed to specific regulations that impose pre-conceived solutions that may not always work.
In a prepared statement, Anne Drinkwater, president of BP Canada Inc., expressed her sympathy to families, friends and colleagues of the people who were killed in the explosion and subsequent fire at the company's project in the Gulf. But she said the company was conducting its own internal investigation which it intends to share, as well as working with federal authorities to contain the oil spill and prevent future accidents.
"Figuring out what happened and why it happened is a complex process," said Drinkwater.
Eleven people were killed in the accident, and Drinkwater said that at least 17 others were injured.

Organizations: British Petroleum, National Energy Board, BP Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Gulf of Mexico, U.S.

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Recent comments

  • john
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Then don,t drill!!!!!!

  • M
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Thats like saying if theres no guarentee you can't get in a car accident dont drive.

    This work can be done in a safe and responsible fashion. Don't let the actions of an operating company with a history of incidents ruin an entire offshore industry.

  • john
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Then don,t drill!!!!!!

  • M
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Thats like saying if theres no guarentee you can't get in a car accident dont drive.

    This work can be done in a safe and responsible fashion. Don't let the actions of an operating company with a history of incidents ruin an entire offshore industry.