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Harper Government Announces First Steps Towards World-Class Tanker Safety System

March 2013


Creation of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel

The Government of Canada works in a number of ways to protect our marine environment, and to help ensure that marine transportation is safe and efficient. While the current system has served Canada well, a comprehensive review will help us to build a stronger system that can meet future needs. That is why the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Tanker Safety Expert Panel.

Brander-Smith Panel

The last panel to review Canada's tanker safety sytem was commissioned following the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident and led to the Brander-Smith Report. In response to the recommendations contained in this report, a comprehensive national Marine Oil Spill Preparedness and Response System was developed. This system established a level of preparedness to respond to marine oil pollution incidents in Canadian marine regions south of 60° north latitude.

New measures

While the current system has met existing needs, and there have been no major spills involving oil tankers, the dynamics of oil transportation have changed significantly. For example, oil and liquefied natural gas shipments have increased significantly along with the transport of hazardous and noxious substances. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development has recommended that the Government of Canada ensure that Canada is prepared to respond to ship-source oil and chemical spills in Canadian waters.

The Government of Canada is also investing in a suite of measures to strengthen tanker safety and to review the legislative and regulatory frameworks related to it. A key component of these measures is the creation of a panel, which will develop recommendations for a world-class tanker safety system.

The Tanker Safety Expert Panel will conduct a pan-Canadian, evidence-based review and assessment of Canada's tanker safety system to make recommendations to the Government of Canada on the development of a world class system. Specifically, the panel will assess the system's structure, functionality and its overall efficiency and effectiveness.

The review will have two components: the first component will focus on the system currently in place south of 60° north latitude, while the second component will focus on the requirements needed for the Arctic as well as a national review of the requirements for hazardous and noxious substances, including liquefied natural gas.

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