Independent research center Clear Seas has published a study of governance systems and practices for oil spill response in leading ports around the world to identify possible options for improvement of the regimes in Canadian ports.
Led by Dr Trevor Heaver, Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia Centre for Transportation Studies, the research examines spill response policies and practices in Seattle, Los Angeles and Houston in the U.S., and Southampton, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Hamburg in Europe.
The issue of spill response in Canadian ports was flagged for study partly because of concerns with the response to the Marathassa spill incident in English Bay in 2015.
Canada has been fortunate to have mainly learned from spills elsewhere, but its focus has remained for too long on concerns for catastrophic spills, states the report.
The report highlights the importance of national policy, the holistic nature and goals of oil spill prevention and response, the need for an integrated response to spills in ports, achieving preparedness for spill response, achieving scalability in spill response and the need for continuous improvement.
The report proposes shifting responsibility for spill response planning and management in federal ports from the Canadian Coast Guard to port authorities.
It also calls for mandating public availability and transparency of spill incident data and response plans of agencies and corporations under federal jurisdiction.
The report is available here.