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TERMPOL: Hoops and hurdles, or battle of facts? - Subscriber Access Only

By BCShippingNews 19 March 2015

Advance to engagement

Even as the economic foundations for new or enhanced energy shipments from B.C. waters seem to tremble under the opposing pressures of depressed oil prices and the haste to compete in a shifting global market, enormous effort continues to be spent in cross-checking operational and environmental viabilities.

For the purposes of the upcoming NIBC conference on Maritime Energy Transport, some of the most technically interesting aspects of this effort are documented within Transport Canada’s TERMPOL (“Technical Review of Marine Terminal Systems and Transshipment Sites”) process.

Photo above: How much study can make the risks real, recognizable and manageable? Photo courtesy of Enbridge Northern Gateway Project

The TERMPOL process originated in the 1970s as a result of some spectacularly noteworthy tanker accidents. The infamous Torrey Canyon sinking on the Cornish coast in 1967 was followed by the Chedabucto Bay grounding of the Arrow in 1970, thus bringing a global problem to Canadian shores. Subsequent deliberations by an interdepartmental committee led to the initial TERMPOL in 1977.

TERMPOL is now an established process, answering a public concern for demonstration of prudent examination of proposals in order to recognize and mitigate risks. But this is not to say that TERMPOL is without critics. Is TERMPOL now a rigorous, fair and balanced process? Or is it just a broadside of facts, in which the proponents’ “weight of fire” easily overwhelms the opposition?

This article will surely not answer these questions to everybody’s satisfaction, but it attempts to give a sense of the process, and the diligence of various proponents in documenting their marine risks.

Forming line of battle?