On October 31, 2018, Federal Authorities filed direct evidence with the National Energy Board (NEB) in relation to Project-relate marine shipping, including mitigation measures, alternative means and requirements of any follow-up program.

The submission is part of the Reconsideration hearing for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. The hearing will consider any necessary changes or additions to the NEB’s May 2016 Recommendation Report, in light of the inclusion of Project-related marine shipping between the Westridge Marine Terminal and the 12-nautical-mile territorial sea limit in the “designated project” under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA 2012). Direct evidence filed by Trans Mountain can be viewed here.

The evidence in the submission is confined to the List of Issues for the Reconsideration hearing and the NEB’s request to Federal Authorities of October 12, 2018, and is comprised of specialist, expert information or knowledge in the possession of each relevant authority. The Federal Authorities are: Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Transport Canada (TC), Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA), Pacific Pilotage Authority (PPA), Health Canada (HC), Parks Canada (PC) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

Here are some highlights of the evidence filed by Federal Authorities that is new since the original consideration of the Project by the NEB:

Ocean Protections Plan

The $1.5 billion national Oceans Protection Plan, being delivered by TC, ECCC, NRCan, DFO and CCG, includes a range of measures that was modelled to meet or exceed international best practices related to marine safety and protection (e.g. practices of the jurisdictions of Alaska and Norway).

The objective of the Oceans Protection Plan is to improve marine safety and responsible shipping, protect Canada’s marine environment and offer new possibilities for Indigenous and coastal communities. The Oceans Protection Plan’s initiatives are grouped in four pillars:

  • Improve responsible shipping and protect Canada’s waters, including measures to prevent incidents and accidents, while enabling rapid response actions in the event of a spill;
  • Restore and protect the marine ecosystems and habitats, using new tools and research, as well as taking measures to address abandoned boats and wrecks;
  • Strengthen partnerships and launch co-management practices with Indigenous communities; and
  • Invest in oil spill response research and methods to ensure that decisions taken in emergencies are evidence-based.

Many of the improvements under the Oceans Protection Plan are already, or will be, in place before marine shipping associated with the Project would begin.

Whales Initiative

In June 2018, the Government of Canada announced the $167 million Whales Initiative. In addition, Canada recently approved a suite of measures in response to the finding that southern resident killer whales (SRKW) face imminent threats to their survival and recovery.

Through the Whales Initiative, including the additional measures recently announced, DFO, TC and ECCC, together with CCG, are addressing the main threats to the SRKW by:

  • Improving prey availability;
  • Reducing disturbance from underwater vessel noise;
  • Enhancing monitoring under the water and in the air;
  • Preventing releases of contaminants;
  • Encouraging compliance and strengthening enforcement;
  • Building partnerships for additional

Marine Noise

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s (VFPA) Enhancing Cetacean Habitat and Observation (ECHO) Program  was established in November 2014, with a goal to better understand and reduce the threats to at-risk whales posed by shipping. This goal is being achieved through the advancement of research projects which inform the development and implementation of science-based mitigation options. Over the course of the last four years, the ECHO Program has worked collaboratively with the marine transportation industry, scientists, government, conservation and environmental organizations and Indigenous individuals to develop and implement voluntary mitigation measures.

In recent years, the ECHO Program has led the following mitigation actions in order to reduce the threats of acoustic and physical disturbance from shipping:

  • 2017 Haro Strait voluntary vessel slowdown trial - Results of the slowdown trial indicated reducing vessel speeds is an effective way of reducing the underwater noise generated at the vessel source for all major vessel categories, as well as reducing total underwater noise in nearby habitats, which may in turn benefit the behaviour and foraging success of SRKW.
  • 2018 Haro Strait voluntary vessel slowdown action - A refined approach was proposed for voluntary vessel slowdown action in 2018 which utilizes different vessel speeds and a dynamic slowdown start and end date in an effort to both maximize vessel participation and benefit to the whales, when they are present.
  • Strait of Juan de Fuca lateral displacement trial – Conducting a voluntary trial to study how laterally displacing vessels away from known SRKW feeding areas affects the underwater noise levels in those foraging areas, in partnership with TC, and supported by U.S. Coast Guard, DFO, Canadian and U.S. marine transportation industry, Indigenous individuals and environmental and conservation groups.

View the VFPA’s evidence here

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Transport Canada is working with the International Marine Organization (IMO) to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 and to pursue phasing emissions out entirely as a point on a pathway of CO2 emissions reduction consistent with the Paris Agreement. In 2018, IMO Members agreed to an initial strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from vessels with the intent to revise this strategy in 2023. Part of the initial strategy for the reduction of GHGs is speed reduction, which a 2017 CE Delft study shows could reduce baseline CO2 emissions by up to 33% with a speed reduction of 30%. In addition to reducing GHGs speed reduction has the potential to reduce other environmental impacts including effect to migratory birds and southern resident killer whales.

Fate and Behaviour of Oil (including Diluted Bitumen)

NRCan scientists, in collaboration with colleagues at ECCC and DFO, continue to do further studies on the fate, behavior and potential spill impacts of spilled diluted bitumen. In studies carried out since 2015 on the fate and behavior of diluted bitumen, NRCan has found evidence to support the conclusion that “any sinking would likely be in limited quantities” and suggests that the period of time available for spill response actions on floating oil could be weeks rather than days.

NRCan found that for the four diluted bitumen products tested for eight days in an open tank in freshwater with sediment and a breaking wave pattern of “on for two days then off for two days”, none of the oil mats submerged or sank. For the three diluted bitumen products that have so far been tested for at least 30 days under the same conditions, one of the oil mats submerged on the 21st day.

Marine Spill Prevention, Emergency Preparedness and Response Measures

Significant improvements have been made to the Coast Guard’s prevention, preparedness and response capabilities since 2015, including:

  • The Kitsilano Coast Guard Station officially re-opened May 1, 2016 to ensure that an additional layer of marine search and rescue and emergency and environmental response capacity is available in the Vancouver area. In addition to providing search and rescue and environmental response services, Kitsilano will also serve as an incident command post which will help ensure a coordinated, timely response to on-water emergencies.
  • The Coast Guard is currently procuring 20 new search and rescue Bay Class lifeboats to populate some new Search and Rescue stations and replace existing ageing vessels nationwide. Construction is well underway, with two vessels already delivered and on their way to the West Coast. Two more new vessels are planned for the West Coast, to be delivered in Fall 2019.
  • The CCG partnered with NRCan’s Indigenous Partnership Office - West (IPO-W) to support two Indigenous internship sessions between 2016 and 2018: the Pollution Response Internship Pilot Program and First Nations First Responders training. IPO-W provided Strategic Partnerships Initiative funding to support Coast Guard’s proposal to strengthen First Nation capabilities in pollution response.
  • The CCG has completed the modernization and consolidation of its Marine Communications and Traffic Services centres across the country.
  • Building on the measures introduced under the World-Class Tanker Safety System, the CCG has implemented the Incident Command System. Incident Command System is a standardized, on scene, all-hazards management methodology which is designed to ensure the effective command, control and coordination of response efforts to all-hazard maritime incidents. The implementation effort was completed in the spring of 2018 and has helped to ensure an enhanced Coast Guard ability to respond to marine pollution and other incidents with key partners, Indigenous communities, response organizations and others within private industry.

Marine Safety

The Pacific Pilotage Authority has implemented a number of improvements to further enhance the safety of the marine pilotage operation on the west coast of Canada, including:

  • Entering into a partnership with the BC Coast Pilots on the ownership and operation of a full mission bridge simulator that will allow for enhanced training, testing and mentoring programs with all West Coast pilots able to access the training facility at any time in order to further refine their skills in ship handling and emergency procedures.
  • Implementation of a more formalized training program with peer reviews and required training as each pilot progresses through the program, including the training requirements that apply to unrestricted pilots on an ongoing basis.
  • Development of a very sophisticated forecasting model comprised of over three million inputs and provides both financial and manpower forecasting to a degree never thought possible in the past.

  View the PPA’s evidence here