Suncor fine is a bad joke

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The recent news of a $30,000 fine for the latest of Suncor’s ongoing pollution of the offshore (The Telegram, Oct. 6) reads like a joke on the environment.

 Our environment is truly undervalued and unprotected when, as the report stated, the fine is a dollar for every barrel of contaminant spilled and the company doesn’t even have to clean their mess. They just have to take a picture of it.

 The company’s responsibility is to clean up, and I’m sure it would cost considerably more than $30,000 (or even $130,000 for that matter) in specialized labour and equipment to do so.

 The current system, unfortunately, continues to enable companies to profit considerably by merely seeking forgiveness from the courts after these environmental incidents, and not ask for permission beforehand to prevent them as the pared statement of facts attests.

What truly has happened to the overall subsea surface with these developments (the Jeanne d’Arc Basin alone probably compares with the size of the boot of the Burin Peninsula)?

The public should know. A fully independent ROV scope and investigation should be initiated and updated regularly, basin-wide, to chart an inventory of every reported and unreported incident and development implication.

The people of Newfoundland Labrador are promised a near pristine subsea environment once the oil companies pull out, even allowing the fish and other life to return.

The news report casts very reasonable doubt to these assurances and indicate Suncor (which may be the first to pull out later this decade) will be like so many other developers who have contaminated our land and shore and left us with the bill for hundreds of millions (if not billions) of dollars in unfunded reclamation work.

The serious question is where are any foresightful oversights of the offshore board (CNLOPB) and the courts on an evolving storyline that is beginning to read like an eerie Halloween saga with the province eventually reclaiming large areas that are inanimate, toxic and who knows what else?

Companies have to clean up every mess as they go along, and the people of the province should always have an accurate accounting of the cumulative costs these malignant activities have on the offshore environment, with visible and comprehensive courses of action to address the devastating effects in the immediate term.

Clearly the report shows this accountability is not happening, to our everlasting detriment.

Don Abbott

St. John’s

Geographic location: Newfoundland Labrador

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