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Water Today Title October 21, 2020

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Update 2018/6/26
Chemical spills


This story is brought to you in part by Microhydropower Systems & Designs

by Michelle Moore

On June 22 BP Canada reported a spill of drilling fluid off the coast of Nova Scotia at it's offshore oil exploration operation.

An incident report on the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) website noted that a spill of 136 000 litres of synthetic based drilled mud (SBM) took place at the West Aquarius Drilling Unit located some 330 kilometres southeast of Halifax.

The company submitted an application for the project in September 2017 and obtained approval for the exploratory phase of the project in April 2018. The spill occurred at the Aspy D-11 exploration well, the first of seven exploratory wells BP Canada plans on using.

Environmentalists reacted and expressed worry that the location of the project could endanger coastal communities and the nearby Gully Marine Protected Area and Sable Island.

Energy Campaign Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre Stephen Thomas said in a statement "coastal communities have been concerned that something like this - or worse - would happen."

Thomas added, "we think that 136,000 litres of synthetic drilling fluid off of our coasts is a sign of the huge risks associated with this type of drilling and is cause for concern."

BP Canada said that the spill which appeared to come from a pipe that forms a section of the mud system roughly 30 metres under sea level has since been contained. A remote vehicle is being used to determine the cause. All work has stopped until the CNSOPB gives their approval to continue.

SBM is a heavy, dense fluid used during drilling to lubricate the drill pipe and regulate reservoir pressure. Angela Giles, Atlantic Regional Organizer, Council of Canadians reacted saying "this synthetic drilling mud is dense and likely is sitting on the bottom of the ocean, smothering sea life on the sensitive and economically important Scotian Shelf."

For their part, the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs are demanding that all work be halted on the West Aquarius Drilling Unit until BP Canada can respond to their questions and concerns.

"We want answers from BP Canada," said Chief Terrance Paul, Fisheries Lead for the Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs

"We want to know how this could happen, what affect 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."

The Assembly of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq Chiefs is also asking that the CNSOPB and the Department of Oceans and Fisheries investigate the matter.

The spill comes just two days after the Nova Scotia government announced it was investing almost $12 million in research to "create a clearer picture of the oil and gas resource potential that exists off the coast of Nova Scotia."


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