World-Class Tanker Safety System: Safe tankers through rigorous inspection and prevention

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting both the safety of Canadians and the environment. No development will proceed unless rigorous environment protection measures are in place. These goals are part of its plan for Responsible Resource Development, which aims to create high-quality jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians. Canada is taking further action to ensure that it has a world-class tanker safety system for shipping oil and liquefied natural gas safely through Canada’s waterways before any major new energy export facilities become operational. 

Eight new measures will strengthen Canada’s tanker safety system.

  1. Tanker inspections: The number of inspections will increase to ensure that all foreign tankers are inspected on their first visit to Canada, and annually thereafter, to ensure they comply with rules and regulations, especially with respect to double hulls.
     
  2. Systematic surveillance and monitoring of ships: The government will expand the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP).
     
  3. Incident Command System: The government will establish a Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Incident Command System which will allow it to respond more effectively to an incident and integrate its operations with key partners.
     
  4. Pilotage programs: We will review existing pilotage and tug escort requirements to see what more will be needed in the future.
     
  5. Public port designations: More ports will be designated for traffic control measures, starting with Kimitat.
     
  6. Scientific research: The government will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment.
     
  7. New and modified aids to navigation: The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices, to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes, is installed and maintained.
     
  8. Modern navigation system: The CCG will develop options for enhancing Canada’s current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013 for government consideration.

Tanker inspections

As of 2010, large crude oil tankers can no longer operate in Canadian waters without a double hull. A double hull is a type of hull where the bottom and sides of a vessel have two complete layers of watertight hull surface.

Transport Canada currently has a requirement for all Canadian-flagged tankers to be inspected at least once a year to ensure they are compliant with current legislation and regulations.

The new measures will increase inspections of all foreign tankers to ensure Canada achieves its policy of inspecting each one on its first visit to Canada and annually thereafter.

Systematic aerial surveillance and monitoring of ships

A watchful eye is kept over ships transiting waters under Canadian jurisdiction through the National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP). Three aircraft strategically placed across the country monitor shipping activities over all waters under Canadian jurisdiction using sophisticated state-of-the-art remote sensing equipment including Environment Canada’s Integrated Satellite Tracking of Pollution Program (ISTOP) – which can identify potential spills from satellite images.

Investigations have led to numerous successful prosecutions against marine polluters over the years, with some cases resulting in financial penalties over $100,000. Nationally, the NASP flew 2,064 patrol hours in 2011-2012. During these patrols, 12,032 vessels were overflown, 135 pollution sightings were detected and 73,315 vessels were tracked.

Long-term funding will be provided to support NASP and the program will be enhanced to boost surveillance efforts in areas such as northern British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Pilotage programs

All tanker operators operating within a compulsory pilotage area must take on board a marine pilot with local knowledge. The boarding pilot's extensive knowledge of the local waterway can guide the vessel safely to its destination.

Canada’s four pilotage authorities are responsible for providing safe, reliable and efficient marine pilotage services at ports in all geographic areas of the country. The four pilotage authorities in Canada are the Atlantic Pilotage Authority, the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority, the Pacific Pilotage Authority and the Laurentian Pilotage Authority.

Transport Canada will review the legal and voluntary measures currently in place to safely guide vessels to their destination. This review will determine what, if any, legislative and/or regulatory changes to the Pilotage Act or the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 are needed by fall 2013.

Public port designations

The Government of Canada will designate Kitimat as a public port under the Canada Marine Act. This designation will allow the port to put in place better traffic control measures to facilitate the safe movement of vessels. A national risk assessment will help to identify other ports for this designation as well.

Incident Command System

As the lead federal agency to ensure an appropriate response to a spill, CCG must work effectively with other partners to ensure the protection of the marine environment and public safety. As such, the CCG will adopt the Incident Command System, which will allow for a more effective response to a major spill and integrate its operations with key partners, such as Canada’s private-sector response organizations. The Incident Command System is an internationally accepted emergency management system used for the command, control, and coordination of emergency response operations.

Scientific research

Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Natural Resources Canada will conduct scientific research on non-conventional petroleum products, such as diluted bitumen, to enhance understanding of these substances and how they behave when spilled in the marine environment. The results of these scientific research projects will fortify Canada’s marine prevention, preparedness and response capabilities.

Results of this integrated scientific research will inform decision-making in the areas of spill-response technologies and countermeasures, enabling identification of best practices with regard to the selection of the best response tools in a given situation. This research will also provide better understanding of the effect of products, like diluted bitumen, on marine ecosystems. Finally, research will inform strategies to protect the marine environment and its shorelines.

Working together, the three departments will examine diluted bitumen to develop a more profound understanding of the product’s chemical and physical properties, and its behaviour in marine environments.

New and modified aids to navigation

The CCG will ensure that a system of aids to navigation comprised of buoys, lights and other devices to warn of obstructions and to mark the location of preferred shipping routes is installed and maintained. The Canadian Hydrographic Service will conduct hydrographic surveys and will incorporate the aids to navigation information along with other safety information to generate improved navigational charts and other related safety products. Aids to navigation and hydrographic charts and safety information are important elements of Canada's marine navigation system. Implementation of these measures will ensure mariners are adequately provided with the navigational support they require for safe and efficient navigation of vessels to and from the Port of Kitimat.

Modern navigation system

The CCG, together with the Canadian Hydrographic Service will develop options for enhancing Canada’s current navigation system (e.g. aids to navigation, hydrographic charts, etc) by fall 2013.

Stakeholders have indicated that Canada's current navigation system could be improved by leveraging advances in data collection and communications technologies. Relevant navigational information (e.g. charts, buoy status, weather, ice conditions, etc.) can now be made electronically available to vessels in real-time, if the right technology is available, thereby improving the safety and efficiency of marine transportation.

March 2013

Date modified: