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Report of the Terra Nova Development Project Environmental Assessment Panel

7.0 Recommendations

7.1 Fundamental Findings

Recommendation 1:

The Panel recommends that the Government of Canada, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Board give approval for the Terra Nova Development to proceed subject to the recommendations in this report.

Recommendation 2:

The Panel recommends that a precautionary approach govern all aspects of the Terra Nova Development.

Recommendation 3:

The Panel recommends to the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that adequate resources be allocated to the Board for the implementation and follow-up of the recommendations of this report.

Recommendation 4:

The Panel recommends that the Board take a more active role in the exercise of its full mandate.

7.2 Socio-Economic Impacts of the Project

Recommendation 5:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents use their best efforts to ensure that local fabrication yards have the information and support necessary to take advantage of opportunities to upgrade project management, procurement and quality control systems to the highest recognized international standards.

Recommendation 6:

The Panel recommends that the Board approve construction of project facilities in foreign countries only if the quality assurance and quality control of that country are equal to or better than in Canada, and also where the means for monitoring and control of quality are in place.

Recommendation 7:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to use their best efforts and bidding processes to cause the successful international supplier of sub-sea systems to set up assembly and fabrication facilities in Newfoundland, using local labour trained to produce quality products.

Recommendation 8:

The Panel recommends that the Board monitor and review the qualifications required for all jobs to ensure that residents of the Province are not excluded by unreasonable or unnecessary qualification requirements or other artificial barriers, and that the maximum number of apprenticeships permitted by union constitutions are filled by local people.

Recommendation 9:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to identify to the Board the level and type of qualifications required for positions on their remote operating vehicle crews and indicate where such training can be obtained and that the Board initiate arrangements for establishing appropriate training in the Province.

Recommendation 10:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to reassess their need for deep-sea diving throughout the life of the Project and report the findings to the Board and that, if a need for divers is demonstrated, the Board initiate arrangements for appropriate training in the Province.

Recommendation 11:

The Panel recommends that as part of the benefits plan approval process, the Proponents supply: a list of skills required for the various trades throughout the life of the Project; an explanation of where shortfalls of skills are anticipated when compared with the local labour force; and, a plan for co-operation with government agencies, training institutions and unions to develop and fund training programs for Newfoundland tradespeople to attain the level of skill required for the Project. Such training programs should provide for periodic updating as the Project proceeds.

Recommendation 12:

The Panel recommends that the Board and the Proponents work with school boards to promote an interest in careers in the oil industry, through participation in career days, guest lecturing in science courses, providing scholarships, and the like.

Recommendation 13:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents provide to the Board, to government and to educational institutions information on jobs in the operations phase, including specific qualifications required, to allow planning to take place regarding the development of any new training required.

Recommendation 14:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents require contractors and subcontractors to work towards developing a true partnership with workers and their representatives.

Recommendation 15:

The Panel recommends that, if a union agreement is negotiated for offshore workers, it should be between single entities and should clearly provide for a flexible workforce that is not hidebound by the existence of rigidly narrow trade classifications.

Recommendation 16:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents require their contractors and subcontractors to educate their management staff, down through the supervisor level, about the rationale for and the requirements of the Atlantic Accord, so that all decisions can be made in the context of that Accord.

Recommendation 17:

The Panel recommends that the Board discontinue the practice of establishing employment targets for Canadian, and in particular, Newfoundland workers.

Recommendation 18:

The Panel recommends that the Board insist upon compliance with the spirit and intent of the Atlantic Accord so as to avoid the necessity for bringing personnel from outside the Province solely because the need was not identified early enough to permit the training of local residents.

Recommendation 19:

The Panel recommends that the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador require the Board to prepare an assessment of the effectiveness of the Accord Acts in securing first consideration for employment of Newfoundland residents, together with recommendations, if necessary, for strengthening the provisions of the Accord Acts or its regulations so that benefits accrue to Newfoundlanders according to the original spirit and intent of the Accord. Furthermore, the Board should carry out regular periodic reviews of the effectiveness of the Accord Acts in the future.

Recommendation 20:

The Panel recommends that, should deviations from the principle of first consideration for Newfoundland workers be deemed necessary, the Proponents, with the full knowledge of the concerned worker representatives, be required to seek written authorization from the Board.

Recommendation 21:

The Panel recommends that a work week of 40 hours and maximum levels for overtime of 10 hours per week be established by the Board as the norm for the Terra Nova Development.

Recommendation 22:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to institute an appropriate system for providing regular information to the public, not only regarding job and business opportunities, but also regarding the extent to which it is adhering to all commitments made in the context of its benefits plan.

Recommendation 23:

The Panel recommends that the Board commence a regular public information program to update the people of the Province on the results of its compliance monitoring efforts and other matters of interest to the public concerning activities of the offshore oil industry.

Recommendation 24:

The Panel recommends that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador improve its public information efforts concerning the offshore oil industry, in particular by releasing full information concerning any changes in existing petroleum policies or the adoption of new ones, together with clear explanations of policies in place.

Recommendation 25:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents, their contractors and subcontractors be required to honour any statutory obligations respecting the licensing of professionals who work in the Province of Newfoundland.

Recommendation 26:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents use their best efforts to promote supplier development throughout the Province.

Recommendation 27:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that Newfoundland content in the Project is maximized and that such content includes technology transfer and support for existing and new industries in the service sector.

Recommendation 28:

The Panel recommends that the Board develop a plan to ensure that technology transfer and new industrial development become a prime requisite for the approval of future oil development projects.

Recommendation 29:

The Panel recommends that, while the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador may decide to renew the funding for the Bull Arm Area Co-ordinating Committee, the Terra Nova Development should not be considered as a reason for such renewal.

Recommendation 30:

The Panel recommends that administration of the Bull Arm site remain under the jurisdiction of the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Recommendation 31:

The Panel recommends that the safety plans for the Project be released to the public for information and that the Board allow sufficient time for receipt and consideration of public comment before proceeding to approval. For future projects, the Panel recommends that the safety plan be a required element of the environmental impact statement.

Recommendation 32:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that the safety plan for the Project is built upon the highest standards for materials, design and operational procedures to ensure life safety; that safe refuge areas and escape routes be designed with worst-case scenarios clearly in mind; that evacuation systems represent the best available technology; and, that workers be made partners in developing and monitoring safety procedures.

7.3 Impact of the Environment on the Project

Recommendation 33:

The Panel recommends that the Terra Nova Development should become, in collaboration with the Atmospheric Environmental Service of Environment Canada and the Hibernia platform, an important centre for the collection of weather data both to enlarge and improve current data sets and to aid in the early identification of intense winter storms; and, that a collaborative weather program with a research component be designed and implemented to improve observational techniques and operational forecasting.

Recommendation 34:

The Panel recommends that the development plan should include a program devised in consultation with the Canadian Coast Guard and other appropriate authorities for monitoring and controlling marine traffic and for the development of a set of protocols to obviate the danger of collision.

Recommendation 35:

The Panel recommends that measures proposed by the Proponents to ameliorate spray icing or icing from freezing rain should be coupled with a research program designed to expand current knowledge and to refine existing models with the objective of establishing completely reliable design load estimates for the extreme conditions that may be encountered in the Terra Nova Development area.

Recommendation 36:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents, in collaboration with Environment Canada and other relevant institutions, collect data and regularly update wave hindcast data bases.

Recommendation 37:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that design criteria for vessels that will be on site for two decades or more must clearly recognize the possibility of extreme wave values higher than those predicted by the current model.

Recommendation 38:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to maintain a continuous surface current monitoring program at the Terra Nova site to enhance the predictability of oil dispersal patterns. The Panel further recommends that serious consideration be given to the incorporation of the data from the monitoring exercise with drift modeling.

Recommendation 39:

The Panel recommends that the ice management plan should:

  1. allow for the difficulties in forecasting iceberg trajectories and provide for the acquisition of adequate real-time data that can add a substantial pragmatic element to model-driven projections;
  2. clearly indicate a process for selecting the icebergs to be managed by towing, for example, when multiple icebergs are in the immediate area;
  3. recognize that collisions with small growlers and bergy bits are definite hazards to shipping;
  4. include a process for timely identification and management of threatening growlers;
  5. recognize the potential for a substantial increase in the number of icebergs crossing the 48th parallel as a concomitant of global warming;
  6. include provision for a third-party audit of its effectiveness;
  7. clearly establish a set of protocols that will determine the conditions which will dictate disconnection and removal of all surface vessels to a safe area; and,
  8. include a continuous program of observation and research that leads to the improvement of radar and other remote sensing devices that will make possible the early detection of even low-lying masses of floating ice.

Recommendation 40:

The Panel recommends that ship designs for the Project clearly recognize the hazard to hull integrity posed by growlers and bergy bits and meet the

highest standards for navigation in ice as presented by the appropriate authorities.

Recommendation 41:

The Panel recommends that all marine crews be properly trained and certified in safety and marine emergency procedures and that the Proponents make appropriate arrangements with relevant establishments in the Province for such training.

Recommendation 42:

The Panel recommends that operational planning should allow for the simultaneous occurrence of two or more 100-year events, involving combinations of wind, sea, and ice. This should include a well-designed and clearly understood decision-making process for the timely removal of the production vessel and all other vessels from the area.

Recommendation 43:

The Panel recommends that the marine captain should be ultimately responsible for the safety of the vessel and her crew in respect of all weather or sea-state hazards. A mechanism for the formal and continuous consultation between the captain and the offshore installations manager should be clearly in place. The marine captain should be the one to implement, when it is necessary, the protocols to disconnect the vessel and remove it to a safe area.

7.4 Environmental Effects of the Project

Recommendation 44:

The Panel recommends that the Board undertake a new, thorough, immediate review of the adequacy of present regulations on discharges. The review should take full account of monitoring and management experiences in other offshore petroleum areas, and should proceed on the basis of a precautionary approach that considers the impact of specific projects and cumulative effects as well.

Recommendation 45:

The Panel recommends that, if regulations, standards and/or guidelines are updated over the life of the Terra Nova Development, the new requirements should be appliedto the Project. Flexibility in the Project's design is required to allow for retrofitting during the life of the Project in order to comply with updated requirements. Use of facilities that do not incorporate retrofitting provisions in the initial design should not be permitted on the Grand Banks.

Recommendation 46:

The Panel recommends that the Board convene in the near future, a workshop of recognized experts to examine the potential for cumulative impacts in the Newfoundland offshore due to petroleum development and other activities, and to develop best-science approaches to monitoring them.

Recommendation 47:

The Panel recommends that the Board identify the factors necessary for a cumulative effects monitoring program on the Grand Banks and design an implementation plan for such a program; and that future projects be required to incorporate measures consistent with this program into their monitoring efforts.

Recommendation 48:

The Panel recommends that reviews of regulations, standards and guidelines by the Board and relevant government departments explicitly take into account cumulative impacts of all petroleum projects and other probable developments on the Grand Banks, and potential synergistic effects of other activities in the area; and that the Board advise all future proponents that it will not accept environmental impact statements that do not include a thorough and broad analysis of possible cumulative impacts.

Recommendation 49:

The Panel recommends that in the context of the workshop on cumulative effects, the Board should discuss with experts the adequacy of present criteria for significant impact and additional criteria which would be helpful in a precautionary approach to prevent environmental harm.

Recommendation 50:

The Panel recommends that Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans identify specific relevant gaps in existing information pertaining to the Grand Banks which limit their ability to identify and predict typical impacts of offshore petroleum activity. This information should be made available to proponents, the Board and others. The Board must consider such information deficits when reviewing regulated standards.

Recommendation 51:

The Panel recommends that the Board require operators of offshore oil projects to fund basic research. This initiative should include support of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to conduct basic research on the mechanisms and processes by which chemicals in produced water may have impacts on the biological community. Also, support for research on cumulative and sub-lethal effects should be included.

Recommendation 52:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that monitoring data from the Terra Nova Development be subjected to full scientific peer review at regular intervals. Notification and invitation to participate in these reviews should be extended to qualified experts and the public. The reviews conducted by the Board should examine relevance of information that becomes available from basic research studies. The Board should make the data and the results of these reviews available in the public domain. The Board should also regularly present information from on-going monitoring programs and reviews to the public through effective information programs.

Recommendation 53:

The Panel recommends that, because of accumulating data summarized in recent studies which extend the zones of local impacts, the Board ensure that the monitoring program for the Terra Nova Project extend sampling gradients beyond the limits where effects have been previously demonstrated. In the instances where these gradients overlap with potential influences from the Hibernia project, careful standardization of methodologies is necessary.

Recommendation 54:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents re-evaluate the potential for reinjection of drill cuttings as a viable disposal option for the Terra Nova Development. If reinjection is not possible, the Panel recommends that the discharge levels obtainable with best available technology for floating systems be applied to the Terra Nova Development, and that if during the life of the Project standards are developed that cannot be met at sea, the cuttings be transported to shore for safe disposal.

Recommendation 55:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to re-examine the option of reinjection of produced water. Only if they can demonstrate to the clear satisfaction of the Board that reinjection into the Terra Nova formation is not a practical or economically feasible proposition should they be permitted to proceed with discharge after treatment. In that eventuality, the Proponents should be required to meet standards that are the most stringent achievable with best available technology for floating production facilities.

Recommendation 56:

The Panel recommends that the Board require the Proponents to submit a plan for mitigation of discharged chlorinated water that includes the use of alternatives to chlorination or of dechlorination facilities.

Recommendation 57:

The Panel recommends that the Board require the Proponents to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for oil spills.

Recommendation 58:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents implement a program of continuing education for marine crews to keep them sensitive to the ocean environment within which they are working and fully alive to the potentially disastrous consequences of even momentary failures through carelessness, complacency or incompetence.

Recommendation 59:

The Panel recommends that the Board require the Proponents, in accordance with a zero-tolerance policy for oil spills, to establish a set of protocols to determine when oil transfers are unsafe.

Recommendation 60:

The Panel recommends that the appropriate authorities undertake a comprehensive review of the transport of oil produced on the Grand Banks.

Recommendation 61:

The Panel recommends that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador establish a coastal zone management plan for the Avalon Peninsula and the west side of Placentia Bay.

Recommendation 62:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents ensure that all staff associated with the Terra Nova Development be fully informed about the procedures required for reporting all spills, whatever their size.

Recommendation 63:

The Panel recommends that the relationships between relevant government departments during an oil spill response situation be reviewed and clarified so that each co-operating agency has a role that is clearly defined and clearly understood.

Recommendation 64:

The Panel recommends that the Proponents be required to modify the production vessel as new technology emerges to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases at the Project site.

Recommendation 65:

The Panel recommends that the Government of Canada assume a leadership role in the international community in seeking substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and take immediate action to meet, at the very least, those targets set under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Recommendation 66:

The Panel recommends that the Board require the Proponents to undertake a study of seabird attraction to, and collisions with, offshore petroleum facilities, and in this effort should seek co-operation with the Hibernia project so that early evaluation of light effects might be possible, and so that there might be opportunity to test any mitigation procedures which might be required.

Recommendation 67:

The Panel recommends that the Board routinely require observers on the production vessel and on shuttle tankers that use transshipment facilities in Newfoundland until comfort is achieved that there will be minimal impact on seabirds on the Grand Banks or in breeding colonies along the Newfoundland coast.

Recommendation 68:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that monitoring of the abundance and activities of marine mammals, and especially of identified individuals, be conducted and be related to specific activities and attendant emitted noise of the Terra Nova Development.

Recommendation 69:

The Panel recommends that the Board require the Proponents, when the end of the Project approaches, to review and evaluate their plans for decommissioning and abandonment in light of new technologies and standards that are then current.

Recommendation 70:

The Panel recommends that the Board apply the polluter pays principle even after the Project ends provided that harmful effects can be linked unequivocally to the Project.

7.5 Monitoring

Recommendation 71:

The Panel recommends that the Board convene a workshop to identify critical monitoring program details, including baseline studies, and to review the final proposed program before it is approved by the Board.

Recommendation 72:

The Panel recommends that the Board urge the Proponents to seek a synergistic relationship with the Hibernia project to the end of devising the best possible monitoring programs.

Recommendation 73:

The Panel recommends that the Board use every reasonable opportunity, including the provision of funding as appropriate, to promote collaborative research among the Proponents, other petroleum projects, and university and government researchers.

Recommendation 74:

The Panel recommends that the Board ensure that preparations to evaluate the effects of oil spills be done in advance of actual events.

Planning should include preparedness to release drifters in the area of the spill and to provide for their collection at sea and on beaches. In the event of a spill, evaluation of the impact must begin with dispersal of drifters and the careful collection of all oiled seabirds and drifters in the area of the spill and on beaches.

Recommendation 75:

The Panel recommends that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, in collaboration with the Proponents and the Board, design a program to measure possible larval effects and fish tainting which result from released oil, and that such measures be incorporated in the Project's monitoring program.