Root Cause of Oil Leak Deemed "Confidential" by Nova Scotia Power | Ecology Action Centre

Root Cause of Oil Leak Deemed "Confidential" by Nova Scotia Power


K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Yesterday, Nova Scotia Power (NSP) released an update on the Tufts Cove Oil Spill, a leak discovered in early August which resulted in over 24,000 litres being released of which at least 5,000 litres entered Halifax Harbour.

The update shared good news, that oil clean-up is now complete and has met the approval of Environment and Climate Change Canada and Nova Scotia Environment. The update included a timeline of events.

But the root cause of the corrosion that led to the leak remains unclear - at least for members of the public. 

Yesterday, at 4:00 p.m., NSP emailed the Ecology Action Centre to say they are still completing the root cause investigation report, “but it will remain confidential.”

NSP went on to say that root cause analysis reports are not typically released to the public due to “confidential contents.”

Mark Butler, Policy Director at the EAC says concerned citizens have a right to know what caused the release of 24,000 litres of oil. “In our view there is a great deal more information that could be released to the public without jeopardizing the confidentiality of the operations of the company,” Butler says.

Butler applauds Nova Scotia Power for doing a thorough clean-up, including the removal of large boulders in front of the Generating Station. “We also welcome the news that Nova Scotia Power has inspected all their pipes and replaced the insulation covering the pipes,” Butler says.

However, Nova Scotians remain in the dark when it comes to the root cause, and public cost, of this spill.

The EAC has the following questions:

  • Prior to the spill when were the pipes last inspected? Corrosion under insulation is not a new problem.
  • Were other damaged pipes detected since the spill?
  • Why did it take so long to detect the spill which apparently was only detected by chance?
  • What was the overall impact on wildlife and marine habitat?
  • Was there any damage to the cooling system?
  • Is Environment and Climate Change Canada or Nova Scotia Environment going to prosecute Nova Scotia Power for the spill?
  • Will any federal or provincial agency be providing more information to the public?
  • Is Nova Scotia Power reconsidering its use of fuel oil at the facility?
  • What was the cost of the cleanup and what will the cost be to ratepayers? Will cleanup costs or insurance premium implications be put on the rate base or come from company profit?

The EAC says that If the company is not willing to reconsider releasing the root cause analysis, they plan to ask the Provincial or Federal Government to provide more information.

“We look forward to answers from Nova Scotia Power and federal and provincial agencies involved in the cleanup,” Butler says.


The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Nova Scotia, taking leadership on critical issues from biodiversity protection, to climate change, to environmental justice.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Butler
Policy Director, Ecology Action Centre

Mark is also able to provide interviews in French.