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Tsunamis, Earthquakes and Rough Waters

The waters of Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound, two of the areas of most-interest to oil companies, are the stormiest and most seismically active in Canada. These areas have a long history of major earthquakes and ocean tsunamis. It is unlikely any manufactured structure placed in the water to explore and drill for oil and gas would escape damage. These structures include drilling platforms, oil wells, pipelines and shipping facilities. Risking the lives of workers and a rich marine environment for fossil fuels is not just morally wrong, it makes poor business sense.

Near the four major basins where oil companies hold seabed leases is the most earthquake-prone region in Canada. Tremors of varying degrees occur almost daily. In August 2001, 26 tremors were recorded around Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Even without this seismic activity, offshore oil and gas drilling is a risky business. This added natural phenomenon only increases the likelihood of spills at drilling sites.

In addition, unique weather conditions in Hecate Strait could increase the possibility of oil spills and accidents. The combination of shallow waters and high winds moving against tidal currents results in steep waves as high as 30 metres. Navigating a boat in these conditions is virtually impossible, which is why locating offshore platforms and oil rigs in this region raises serious safety concerns.

The summer currents in Queen Charlotte Sound would cause an oil spill to travel south towards the inland waters of Queen Charlotte Strait and the Broughton Archipelago, home to rich fishing grounds and whale migration routes and within close proximity to several coastal communities. A winter spill would travel north towards the islands of Haida Gwaii, the ecologically and culturally unique traditional territory of the Haida people. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is found here and Ninstinsts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.