Not enough known about Gulf of St. Lawrence currents for offshore oil and gas to go ahead safely | Ecology Action Centre

Not enough known about Gulf of St. Lawrence currents for offshore oil and gas to go ahead safely

Old Harry development may put Cape Breton shores at risk

May 9, 2014

Oceanographers at the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski, at the Université du Québec à Rimouski , sounded an alarm call late Thursday, May 8th, about the potential for an oil spill at the proposed Old Harry site south-west of Newfoundland to foul  the shores of Cape Breton. Their study is the first independent scientific initiative to look at how a spill on the surface of the water at Old Harry might spread – i.e., not conducted by a consultant paid by the proponent, Corridor Resources.

Working with Angela Carter of the Political Science Department at the University of Waterloo, scientists Daniel Bourgault, Frédéric Cyr, and Dany Dumont found that:
•    the regulatory process [for offshore oil and gas in the Gulf] has taken place with a complete lack of independent oceanographic research;
•     the Gulf of St Lawrence is a complex environment that has never been specifically studied for oil and gas exploitation;
•    their independent modelling showed the most probable coasts to be impacted by waters from the Old Harry site are Cape Breton and the southern part of Newfoundland’s French Shore, and pointed to the need for much more extensive, objective research;
•    “disconcerting disagreements that exist between the private sector (i.e. Corridor and its consultants) and government scientists, and the problem faced by the Board as it attempts to make a decision on oil exploration without adequate scientific information”; and
•    “inter-provincial collaborative regulation with federal involvement would be more appropriate than isolated province-based decisions on oil and gas development in the Gulf.”
The study was released hard on the heels of the Ecology Action Centre’s press release yesterday calling for an immediate moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration and development in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Said Ecology Action’s Marine Toxics Coordinator Joanne Cook, “This is independent research confirming what we all feared – offshore oil and gas impacts in the Gulf can’t be confined to the shores of any one province. We need an immediate halt to offshore work, and we need all five provinces and the federal government to sit down together to plan a safe, sustainable future for the wildlife and peoples of the Gulf shores.”

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The study is online, along with a video summary, at

For further information, please contact Joanne Cook, Marine Toxics Coordinator, 902.446.4840 or 902.802.3011 (cell);

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