Friday, April 19, 2002 - For immediate release

The Save our Seas and Shores Coalition today called for an over-haul of regulations relating to drilling muds in Canada’s off-shore. The commercially formulated muds are contaminated with cadmium and mercury. A regulatory process to update the controls on drilling muds, currently underway under the Canada-Newfoundland Off-shore Petroleum Board, but with application for all of Canada, would allow the continued dumping of these materials at sea.

“We have just learned that the California legislature is debating mandatory testing for mercury in areas surrounding wells,” said Dr. Irene Novacezk of the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition, “It is beyond belief that the government would knowingly allow our fisheries to be contaminated with mercury.”

In recent hearings before the Oil and Gas Public Review in Cape Breton, under Commissioner Dr. Teresa McNeil, Environment Canada called for all muds, whether water or oil-based, to be transported back to shore for disposal. Yet, the draft regulations under the Canada-Newfoundland Off-Shore Petroleum Board call for dumping of water-based muds at sea. Mark Butler of the Ecology Action Centre noted that each well drilled creates up to one million pounds of waste mud.

“The issue of the toxicity of drilling muds was not part of Dr.McNeil’s report, unless it was captured in her general statement that there were ‘valid concerns’ and ‘many scientific uncertainties.’” said Elizabeth May of the Sierra Club of Canada, “ Given the revelations from the Gulf of Mexico and the growing concern in California, we have additional reasons for demanding a complete moratorium over oil and gas activities in sensitive areas, such as where fish spawn, nursery areas, feeding and migratory routes.” Recent reports in the “Mobile Register” have documented unacceptably high levels of mercury in and around the Gulf of Mexico rigs, in the fish, including fish consumed in local fish markets as well as in local residents.

“Any one who thinks fish and oil can co-exist ought to think about the risk to our fishery if the product ends up stamped ‘unfit for human consumption’ because of proximity to the oil and gas industry,” said Jeff Brownstein of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union. “Where oil and gas operations exist, we need tougher regulations. For the the in-shore areas of Sydney Bight and the southern Gulf, a moratorium is required.”



SOSS Coalition, 902-964-2781
Sierra Club of Canada, 613-241-4611

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