Related: No details on independent safety board

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Provincial opposition parties wondering where commission recommendation stands

There is full support among the members of the House of Assembly for the creation of an independent safety board for the offshore oil and gas sector. Yet the NDP and Liberal members have asked exactly how it is being done and at what pace.

The Dunderdale administration recently reasserted for The Telegram its commitment to the recommendation of retired justice Robert Wells — a recommendation made following the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry — that an independent safety board be established, separate from the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB).

“We continue to work with the Government of Canada on Recommendation 29,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Natural Resources stated. 

“This recommendation re-quires changes to the Atlantic Accord Acts, and agreement from the Government of Canada.” 

Provincial NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said she envisions the work of the safety agency going beyond what can be done by the board’s current contingent of seven safety officers.

“I have no doubt that the (safety) officers at the CNLOPB do their job, but I think the job that needs to be done is bigger than what is being done. And I think that if we had a separate agency, than we would see a much louder voice with regard to safety issues,” she said Monday.

As for the idea of jurisdictional overlap, Michael said the NDP envisions the two boards — the CNLOPB and separate safety board — as “dealing with different issues” and unlikely to cross paths in any problematic way.

In the inquiry he led following the Ocean Ranger disaster, retired justice T. Alex Hickman stated a “single regulatory agency,” as the CNLOPB is today, could avoid “jurisdictional jealousies, administrative overlaps and lack of co-ordination.”

A Telegram reader contacted the paper Monday to offer that Hickman’s comments were made before having the CNLOPB, when the single regulator had yet to be formed from existing provincial and federal agencies. Michael echoed the thought.

“With really due respect to judge Hickman, and I do respect him, we’re at a much different stage now in the offshore, in experience with regard to the offshore, than we were back in the 1980s,” she said.

Meanwhile Liberal MHA Dwight Ball said the Liberal party also continues to fully support the development of the safety board.

“We understand the complexities around this,” he said.

“What we would like to see are regular updates on where this is and what needs to be done.”


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