Quantcast

250,000 Liters of Crude Spills off Newfoundland Coast

Energy
The SeaRose FPSO and offshore support vessels. Berardo62 / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

An estimated 250,000 liters (66,000 gallons) of crude spilled from the SeaRose FPSO, a floating production, storage and offloading vessel, in the White Rose oil and gas field off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.

Husky Energy, the operator responsible, said the spill happened on Friday when the SeaRose FPSO "experienced a loss of pressure" in an oil flowline, according to the Canadian Press.


The incident occurred while Husky was preparing to restart production that was halted on Thursday due to bad weather.

Federal-provincial regulators said Sunday "there is no reason to believe ... that this is an ongoing spill, and it is believed to be a 'batch spill.'"

However, Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady told CBC's St. John's Morning Show Monday there is no way to be sure that the leak has been contained, as poor weather conditions and rough seas have made it impossible to send remotely operated underwater vehicles to take stock of the damage.

"This is an ongoing situation," she said. "The consideration of how much oil has been let go and what the effects are of this spill is ongoing."

The release has become the largest oil spill in Newfoundland offshore history, CBC reporter Chris O'Neill-Yates tweeted on Sunday.

Husky has shut-in and secured all of its wells and halted production and drilling operations, according to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB), the federal agency that regulates the area's petroleum production. The regulator has launched a formal investigation into the spill and will release its findings when available.

The spill, however, "showed that the risks in offshore oil activity can never be underestimated, especially in our harsh environment," the board noted. It said the storm that rolled through last week was "the worst this region has seen offshore since the Ocean Ranger disaster in 1982."

Four surveillance flights and an offshore support vessel have been deployed since Friday to help assess the extent of the spill and to look for any effects on wildlife, the C-NLOPB said. So far, no marine life or seabirds in the vicinity of the spill and its trajectory appear to be affected, it added.

But Bill Montevecchi, who studies seabirds at Newfoundland's Memorial University, expressed concern over the area's wildlife, which could include tens of thousands of murres and dovekies, the CBC reported. He warned that the free-floating oil could separate the seabirds' plumage, meaning cold water could penetrate to the birds' skin and cause them to freeze to death.

He added that Husky should not have resumed production during inclement weather.

"What we're seeing is not an accident. It is the outcome of weak regulation," he told the CBC. "The platform, which had shut down presumably because of storm sea conditions on the Grand Bank, was then going back into operation at a time when clearly it should not have been doing that."

"It's like playing Russian roulette and the bullet just happened to be in the chamber on this one. That should not be an option," Montevecchi said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A vegan diet can improve your health, but experts say it's important to keep track of nutrients and protein. Getty Images

By Dan Gray

  • Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
  • A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
  • It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.

New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.

Read More Show Less
Students gathered at the National Mall in Washington DC, Sept. 20. NRDC

By Jeff Turrentine

Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
samael334 / iStock / Getty Images

By Ruairi Robertson, PhD

Berries are small, soft, round fruit of various colors — mainly blue, red, or purple.

Read More Show Less
A glacier is seen in the Kenai Mountains on Sept. 6, near Primrose, Alaska. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey have been studying the glaciers in the area since 1966 and their studies show that the warming climate has resulted in sustained glacial mass loss as melting outpaced the accumulation of new snow and ice. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

By Mark Mancini

On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.

Read More Show Less
Members of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America table at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18. Alex Schwartz

By Alex Schwartz

Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
StephanieFrey / iStock / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Muffins are a popular, sweet treat.

Read More Show Less
Hackney primary school students went to the Town Hall on May 24 in London after school to protest about the climate emergency. Jenny Matthews / In Pictures / Getty Images

By Caroline Hickman

Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?

Read More Show Less
Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less