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.