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

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


World-Class Tanker Safety System: liability and compensation

Canada's liability and compensation regime for oil spills are based on the "polluter pays" principle, which means that the polluter is always responsible for paying for the cost of an oil spill clean up, including third party damages. This means that if a ship causes a spill, its owner is liable for losses and damages under federal legislation.

Furthermore, in accordance with international conventions, ship owners are subject to compulsory insurance to an amount which is linked to the tonnage of their vessel.  If the amount of damages exceeds the shipowner's liability, international and domestic funds provide additional compensation to a total amount of approximately $1.36 billion.

The Government of Canada is committed to reviewing Canada's liability and compensation regime and is taking further action to ensure that it has a world-class tanker safety system for shipping resources safely through Canada's waterways before any major new energy export infrastructure becomes operational.

The government will undertake a comprehensive review of the oil pollution liability and compensation regime associated with marine transportation spills, based on a risk assessment. The review will include examining the adequacy of the compensation available in the event of a spill and the relevant legislation will be updated to ensure a comprehensive oversight system that places the cost of paying for pollution with the polluter, not Canadian taxpayers.

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