“Crude oil tanker moratorium on British Columbia’s north coast”: Canada’s Minister Of Transportation.

TC-moratorium map-ENBackgrounder

The Government of Canada will introduce legislation by spring 2017 to formalize a moratorium for crude oil tankers on British Columbia’s (B.C.) north coast. This will provide extra protection for B.C.’s pristine northern coastline, including the Great Bear Rainforest, from potential oil spills.

The moratorium will cover the Great Bear Rainforest/Great Bear Sea area: an area from the Alaska/B.C. border down to the point on B.C.’s mainland adjacent to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and this includes Haida Gwaii. The new legislation will prohibit oil tankers carrying crude oil or persistent oil products as cargo from entering or leaving ports and marine installations in this area.

This measure will complement the existing voluntary Tanker Exclusion Zone, which has been in place since 1985.

Products covered

The moratorium will apply to the shipment of crude oils as defined by the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships and this will be set in the legislation. It will also apply to related oil products that are heavier and, when spilled, break up and dissipate slowly. As a result they remain longer in the environment compared to lighter products that tend to dissipate more rapidly. A complete list of these persistent products included in the moratorium will be outlined in a schedule to the legislation. The list of scheduled products could be amended in the future through the regulatory process based on the evolution of science and technology.

Below are examples of related oil products included and not included in the moratorium.

Examples of related oil products

included in the moratorium

Examples of related oil products

not included in the moratorium

  • Partially upgraded bitumen
  • Synthetic crude oil
  • Pitch
  • Slack wax
  • Bunker C fuel oil
  • Liquefied natural gas
  • Gasoline
  • Naphtha
  • Jet fuel
  • Propane

Impact on Northern B.C. communities

Northern B.C. communities rely on marine transportation for resupply – for the provision of goods, products and essential fuels (heating oils and other critical petroleum products) that ensure the ongoing well-being of their residents. Vessels carrying less than 12,500 tonnes of crude oil or persistent oil products as cargo will be exempted from the moratorium to allow local communities and industries to continue to receive these critical goods.

Enforcement and non-compliance

To reinforce the seriousness of the Government of Canada’s commitment to the moratorium, the legislation would include an enforcement regime and penalty provisions. Penalties will be commensurate with the scale of violation and could reach up to $5 million.

Amendments to the product list could be considered following a regulatory review that would assess the latest developments in science and evidence around the fate and behaviour of the petroleum product when spilled, and the state of clean up technology and preparedness to respond to spills. Environmental safety will be the main consideration for any additions or deletions to the product list through the regulatory process.