Few updates, fewer answers two weeks after Newfoundland’s largest-ever oil spill
Nearly two weeks after the largest-ever oil spill in Newfoundland history, the parties involved remain tight-lipped about the incident and what comes next.
Friday will mark the second full week since an estimated 250,000 litres of crude oil spilled into the Atlantic Ocean from Husky Energy’s SeaRose platform, located 350 kilometres southeast of St. John’s.
Only one image of the leaking undersea pipe that is the source of the spill has been released by the operator-turned-polluter.
The spill occurred as the platform prepared to restart production during a fierce storm that was, at the time, the most intense in the world.
Husky says there was a loss of pressure in an underwater pipe connecting to the SeaRose, a vessel that helps produce and store oil.
The reason for the leak has not yet been discovered and there’s still no timeline for when Husky will be able to retrieve and investigate the broken connector.
“We are continuing to develop a plan to retrieve the flowline connector,” said Elizabeth Westersund on Tuesday.
“Once we have recovered the connector and completed our investigation, we will be able to identify future repairs and mitigations.”
The province’s regulator, The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), confirmed that they have yet to receive any plans from Husky Energy — which they must approve before it is implemented.
“Husky is taking the time required to develop its plan,” said C-NLOPB spokesperson on Wednesday.
According to the regulator, no oil sheens have been detected since Nov. 18.
Husky Energy did initiate a water-sampling program on Nov. 26, collecting samples at 50 locations in and around the area of the spill.
WATCH: Weak connector caused Husky oil spill off Newfoundland coast
The company says that three of the 18 seabirds impacted by the spill are undergoing rehab in St. John’s. Five birds have died as the result of exposure to the spill.
The platform has yet to resume production and Husky says there is no timeline for when that will occur.
“We are continuing subsea inspections of the flowlines and working with our certifying authority to ensure integrity of the vessel and subsea infrastructure,” said Elizabeth Westersund.
The C-NLOPB says they continue to look into the incident but say they aren’t able to provide an update on the status of an ongoing investigation.
However, both the Sierra Club Foundation and the WWF have raised flags about the C-NLOPB’s ability to effectively regulate the industry in Newfoundland.
“We have raised this issue for decades, and the issue is that the regulator is in charge of, basically, promoting the industry,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald of the Sierra Club Foundation last week.
Environment Canada did not respond to a request for their response to the spill by the time of publication.
— With files from Ross Lord
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