This story was updated at 8:10 EDT June 26 to include weekend reaction from the affected communities.
It took less than four months for BP’s “safe ” offshore drilling program about 330 kilometres east of Halifax to spill 136,000 litres of toxic mud into the Atlantic Ocean, according to a special bulletin Friday from the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB).
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The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi’kmaq Chiefs and local environmental groups reacted to the spill over the weekend, raising concerns about “the protection of the lands and waters, as well as any potential species affected by the spill,” National Observer reports . “We want answers from BP Canada,” said the Assembly’s fisheries lead, Chief Terrance Paul. “We want to know how this could happen, what effect it could potentially have on our fisheries, and what they are going to do to address that. Incidents like this are unacceptable in Mi’kma’ki.”
“BP has proven itself to be a company that we cannot trust with our oceans,” said Council of Canadians campaigner Robin Tress. “Deeper than that, this proves that our government is untrustworthy at stewarding our oceans and protecting us from the risk of offshore drilling.”
In Ottawa Saturday, the Council staged a mock oil spill on the steps of the Prime Minister’s Office and demanded “a permanent end to BP Canada’s offshore drilling in Nova Scotia,” Observer states.
While the leak was shut down, the Offshore Petroleum Board is still looking into how it happened. “A remote operated vehicle was launched to determine the source of the discharge,” the regulator said in a statement to National Observer. “Preliminary indications is (sic) that it is from piping that forms part of the mud system approximately 30 metres below sea level.”
Citing the CNSOPB, the Observer says the spilled drilling mud “is a heavy, dense fluid that is used to lubricate the drill pipe and overbalance reservoir pressure.” The substance “has low toxicity, and would sink rapidly to the ocean floor.”
BP Canada said the spilled mud “contained synthetic oil that was not toxic and selected based on existing offshore drilling guidelines,” but maintained it was taking the incident seriously. “Drilling operations were suspended once the leak was detected and the loss of drilling fluid was stopped,” spokesperson Anita Perry told the Observer. “The well is secure and drilling operations remain suspended.”