Shell’s Arctic oil plan threatens Yukon: Bagnell

Federal Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell says Yukoners need to be aware of the threat that Shell's plan to drill in the Arctic poses to Canada.

Federal Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell says Yukoners need to be aware of the threat that Shell’s plan to drill in the Arctic poses to Canada.

There just isn’t the technology to do a proper job of cleanup if there is an oil spill in Arctic waters, he said.

“It’s hard enough, as you know, in not-ice-laden waters. And because the Arctic Ocean has circular water currents, anything that happens in Alaskan or Greenland waters – where they’re also on the verge of drilling – will have an effect on the Canadian Arctic including the Yukon’s North Slope.

“I think a number of people may not be aware of the imminent danger. When you see the residual damage from the Exxon Valdez and the oil spill in the gulf of Mexico, it’s not like it cleans up quickly.”

The U.S. government gave the OK last week for Shell to begin drilling in the Chukchi Sea. The decision has been met with protests across the continent, especially in Seattle, where hundreds took to the water in canoes and kayaks close to where the company’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig sits.

Yukoners need to learn about the potential threat of a spill, and start a public conversation about their concerns, said Bagnell.

“I think they should contact their politicians and their environment departments to inquire first about clean-up technology, what the plans are for cleanups.

“And then once there’s public pressure then that affects the regulators, the president and his departments that actually recommend for these situations.”

Bagnell said he’s also concerned about developments related to Arctic oil here at home.

Chevron Corp. and Imperial Oil Ltd. have asked the National Energy Board to consider alternatives to requiring a relief well to be established in the same season as initial drilling.

A relief well provides a way to divert the pressure in the event of a spill.

The companies say that other methods could ensure a similar level of safety, although few details of alternative plans have been made public.

The energy board will likely hear the proposal later this year.

“The fact that the producers actually asked for an exemption in Canadian waters to not have to drill the relief well in the same year is really scary,” said Bagnell.

“Can you imagine oil pouring out into the Arctic Ocean pouring out all season, waiting for them until next season to drill a relief well?”

The Arctic Council could have a role in taking on the issue of co-ordinating between Arctic nations to better understand the implications of a potential oil spill and figure out what’s safe enough, said Bagnell.

But in the end, perhaps it would be best for the oil to stay in the ground, he said.

“Because of global warming, and the cuts that need to be made to carbon production, there’s no necessity to drilling in unsafe places.

“Why would you threaten a pristine environment with new production?”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of the RCMP’s traffic services team examine police markers on Range Road after a six-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle near the Takhini Arena in Whitehorse on Oct. 25. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Six-year-old hit by vehicle near Takhini Arena

Police were called to the scene around 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 25

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. Two new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Watson Lake over the weekend. The cases are connected to three others in the community previously announced by officials on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two additional COVID-19 cases in Watson Lake bring total up to five

Individuals with symptoms and connections to the three other cases were tested over the weekend

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

Teagan Wiebe, left, and Amie Wiebe pose for a photo with props during The Guild’s haunted house dress rehearsal on Oct. 23. The Heart of Riverdale Community Centre will be hosting its second annual Halloween haunted house on Oct. 30 and 31, with this year’s theme being a plague. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Plague-themed haunted house to take over Heart of Riverdale for Halloween

A plague will be descending upon the Heart of Riverdale Community Centre… Continue reading

Indigenous lobster boats head from the harbour in Saulnierville, N.S. on Oct. 21. Elected officials in the Yukon, including all 19 members of the legislature, are backing the right of Mi’kmaq fishers on the East Coast to launch a moderate livelihood fishery. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)
Yukon legislature passes motion to support Mi’kmaw fishery

“It’s not easy, but it’s also necessary for us to have these very difficult conversations”

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over the Takhini elk herd be struck by the court. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Yukon government asks for Takhini elk lawsuit to be struck

The Yukon government is asking for all claims in a lawsuit over… Continue reading

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging the reduction of its caribou quota to zero. (Yukon News file)
YG replies to outfitter’s legal challenge over caribou quota

The Yukon government has filed a reply to an outfitter’s petition challenging… Continue reading

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this year, saying that with COVID-19, it’s “more important than ever.” (Black Press file)
Get flu vaccine, Yukon government urges

The Yukon government is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine this… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

asdf
COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

asdf
Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Most Read