Top News

Newfoundland and Labrador legislature addresses oil spills, construction zone speeding

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters Thursday outside the House of Assembly.
Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady speaks to reporters Thursday outside the House of Assembly. - David Maher

Siobhan Coady says four days of clear weather are hard to find in N.L., leaving broken oil rig component on ocean floor

The broken part of Husky’s SeaRose operation that caused the largest oil spill in the province’s history still sits on the ocean floor.

In November, about 250,000 litres of oil spilled from the well below the SeaRose platform due to a failed flowline connector.

Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady says Husky, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) have been investigating the incident, but until the connector is retrieved, it’s hard to know for sure exactly what went wrong.

“Husky has to wait for four clear days of weather before they can retrieve the flowline. Until that time, they are in reduced operations,” she said.

“It is concerning when you hear the quantity of the spill — 250,000 litres is a lot. It is being investigated.”

Waiting on Mother Nature to co-operate is just that: a waiting game.

Coady says there is no anticipation of when a four-day window of good weather in the area might occur. Until then, officials wait.

There are six wells as part of the SeaRose operation, with only one currently pumping oil.

Finance Minister Tom Osborne says Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will notice the reduced production in the coming provincial budget.

“The impact on this year’s budget is $70 million in deferred revenue. The revenue is not lost, it’s just deferred. The oil is still in the ground,” he said.

The $70 million left in the ground will reflect on the revised deficit numbers from the 2018 provincial budget, which Osborne says will be made clear when the 2019 budget comes down.

Construction zone speeding

Transportation and Works Minister Steve Crocker says a recent pilot project using traffic cameras to watch for fast drivers has turned up a startling number of drivers speeding in construction zones.

Almost 50 per cent of drivers were found going over the speed limit in three areas: during a guardrail installation on the Salmonier Line, during asphalt repairs on Route 420 and during safety upgrades on the Veterans Memorial Highway.

The average speed observed by the cameras was 73 km/h in the 50 km/h zones.

Crocker says none of those caught on camera speeding will get tickets this time around, as the project was just a pilot.

But traffic cameras are coming to the highways. Anyone caught on camera speeding will receive their ticket in the mail, Crocker said.

“We weren’t surprised, but this now gives us the information that there’s a lot of activity in these zones that’s illegal and, frankly, just not safe,” he said.

“We’re working already with Minister Gambin-Walsh and Service NL because there’s a piece of legislation that needs to change for the enforcement part, so that’s currently being worked on.”

Crocker says the privacy commissioner is being engaged to ensure the cameras do not invade the privacy of motorists.

david.maher@thetelegram.com

Twitter: DavidMaherNL

Recent Stories