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David Suzuki Foundation demands moratorium on oil and gas exploration in the gulf

Even small-scale oil spills could have devastating impacts on all five provinces bordering the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as can be seen in video simulations released today by the David Suzuki Foundation. The video simulations show the scope of the impact oil spills at the Old Harry deposit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could have on the region.

"The results of these simulations strengthen our demand for a moratorium on gas and oil exploration and drilling throughout the Gulf of St. Lawrence," said Karel Mayrand, director-general of the David Suzuki Foundation in Quebec. "It has become even more obvious that one province alone should not be allowed to exploit this resource without consulting every province that would suffer the risks associated with these projects. We're appealing to the federal government and the governments of the affected provinces to come up with an integrated gulf management plan."

Mr. Mayrand added that no approach can completely eliminate the risks of an oil spill during drilling operations in marine habitats. "These risks are constantly underestimated by the businesses and regulatory authorities that are supervising the exploitation of these resources," he said, noting that the Gulf of St. Lawrence is an inland sea six and one-half times smaller than the Gulf of Mexico, which recently experienced the devastation of an oil spill.

"The Gulf of St. Lawrence offers crucial habitat for a number of species of fish, crustaceans, and marine mammals that live in the gulf. Some, like the blue whale, are endangered species," said Dr. Jean-Patrick Toussaint, science projects manager of the David Suzuki Foundation in Quebec.

Many coastal communities depend on the gulf for their socioeconomic activities, such as fishing and tourism. "For several months, we have been expressing our concerns to decision-makers about exploration and drilling in marine habitats, but our words have been falling on deaf ears," said Mary Gorman, spokesperson for the Save Our Seas and Shores Coalition in Nova Scotia. "It is important for the region's communities that must bear the risks of these operations to be consulted and to be part of the decision-making process when determining whether or not to exploit this resource."

About the simulations

To illustrate the effects of an oil spill at the Old Harry oil deposit, The David Suzuki Foundation, with the help of experts, developed video simulations demonstrating the scope that such an incident could have. Each simulation illustrates what could happen if a spill of approximately 10,000 barrels of oil per day took place over a 10-day period in various seasons. The model demonstrates the direction of the flow of oil emanating from an instant or continuous spill. Forecasts indicate the location and concentration of surface and underground oil over time.

Video simulations are available online at the David Suzuki Foundation website.

Catherine Orer
Communications Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation
Telephone: 514-316-4646 ×104
E-mail: Catherine.orer@davidsuzuki.org

November 9, 2010

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