Meeting Summary - 8 December 2010 - Inuvik Public Library, Inuvik, NT

Arctic Offshore Drilling Review

Meeting Summary

Date and Location
Date Location
Wednesday
8 December 2010
10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Inuvik Public Library
Inuvik, NT

Purpose: Introduce the Arctic Offshore Drilling Review to the members of the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope).

Participants
Participants
Lindsay Staples Chair, WMAC (North Slope)
Ernest Pokiak Member
Danny C. Gordon Member
Doug Larsen Member
Rob Florkiewicz Member
Christian Bucher Member
Dorothy Cooley Member (Alternate)
Jennifer Smith Secretariat staff
Christine Cleghorn Secretariat staff
Gaétan Caron Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NEB
David Hamilton Member, NEB
Shirley Dawe Assistant Project Manager, Arctic Offshore Drilling Review, NEB
Brian Chambers Northern Advisor, NEB
Bharat Dixit Technical Leader, Conservation of Resources, NEB
Pamela Romanchuk Environmental Specialist, NEB
Susan Gudgeon Northern Coordinator, Arctic Offshore Drilling Review, NEB

Introductory Remarks (NEB):

  • An overview of the Arctic Offshore Drilling Review was provided, including the mandate of the NEB, the events leading up to the Review and the phases of the Review.
  • WMAC (North Slope) were asked "what questions do people want answered before the NEB looks at an application for offshore drilling?"

Dialogue with WMAC (North Slope):

In response to the question put forward, a number of areas of interest and concern were raised by WMAC (North Slope) members, including:

  1. Emergency Response and Preparedness:

    • Given the environment in the Arctic, a possible approach may be to drill two wells at the same time rather than the current requirement for a same season relief well
    • There is a huge body of information regarding relief wells that has been gathered over the years
    • Some day there will be an accident - may be due to weather - the only way there will be some comfort is if there is a relief well
    • Drilling two wells at the same time will have less impact on the environment
    • Oil spill capability has to be there from the start, can't wait until something happens
    • Unpredictable weather adds to complications hat happens if the cement erodes

  2. General:

    • With respect to the Calls for Information, given the scope of the questions, who will be able to answer them and how will the answers be verified
    • Should be looking at a variety of responses
    • Recognizing that there may not be hard and fast answers to everything, will there be guiding principles that the NEB uses when looking at applications for offshore drilling in the Arctic and these should be at the front of the Report
    • The worst case scenario will be twice as bad as what happened in the Gulf because of the ice
    • No matter how good the plans are, people make mistakes and this can be made worse by long working hours/shifts
    • Land is already changing because of climate change
    • Not all land is created equal
    • North Slope is particularly vulnerable from a spill trajectory perspective as it is right on the path (as well as Alaska coast)
    • There are past studies and reports that can be used (monitoring in Alaska, limits of liability, conceptualizing worst case)
    • Companies need to have response capability upfront and should not wait for an accident to happen
    • There is concern of the coordination between governments to provide oversight for activities

  3. Risk Assessment:

    • Even if there is a low probability, the consequences are high
    • Best available information is not necessarily what it needs to be to do risk assessments
    • Risk assessment methodology - what level is deemed acceptable; how to address cumulative risks and broader scope of development; what to do when reaching the threshold of acceptable risk

  4. Value of Resources:

    • If you take care of the land, it will take care of you
    • How can a dollar figure be put on fish and animals that are relied on in coastal communities
    • People have been harvesting beluga for years and years - hard to control things in the sea like fish
    • North Slope has five rivers coming together and are important areas for harvesting
    • The land is like a warehouse, if you keep it tidy and clean you can find things easily, if dirty, you can't (industry leaving things on the land [barrels, wire] - caribou caught in wire)
    • What will be left in the food web over the long term needs to be considered (i.e. dispersants)
    • Multiple species are vulnerable from a spill in the Arctic and is not the same as other pipeline events
    • Country foods would be impacted - an offshore spill decreased the alternatives for country foods
    • People are not narrowly dependent one species
    • A spill event may impact the ability of the Inuvialuit to choose between species and have broad ranging impacts

Concluding Remarks:

  • WMAC (North Slope) will be engaged throughout the review
  • NEB will follow up with WMAC (North Slope) with respect to existing studies and reports
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