Feds in damage control after endorsing controversial offshore drilling plan

Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Feb. 4, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The federal government is attempting damage control, after endorsing a controversial drilling plan in offshore Nova Scotia.

Shell Canada would have up to 21 days to bring in capping technology, if there’s a blowout in any of seven wells in the Shelburne Basin.

READ MORE: Ottawa rules 24-hour response to possible offshore spill is too expensive

The government’s environmental assessment agency agrees with Shell’s argument that it would be too expensive to keep a capping system on scene. Instead, one would be brought in from Norway.

WATCH: Shell allowed 21 days to cap oil well blowout

Environmentalists are calling for a shorter response time, noting a recent U.S. ruling which requires blowouts be capped immediately.

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In a statement, Federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq — who signed off on the plan — notes she “set out 40 legally enforceable conditions for Shell Canada to follow, if the project proceeds.”

READ MORE: 2-hour delay in English Bay fuel spill response could have been avoided

Aglukkaq says her decision requires Shell to take all reasonable measures to prevent accidents, including an Oil Spill Response Plan, and a Well Capping Plan.

As Global News has reported, the final say on Shell’s plans belongs to the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board — which says it will make a decision before the end of the year.

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