Musings on Tanker Risks
One of the problems with each of these caveats is that there is an unwritten assumption that things always improve, or are at least maintained at their current level. Deepwater Horizon taught us that this is not necessarily so. It's not exactly a straight line up- industry pressure, fierce competition, cost-cutting measures, etc. could lead to a relaxation of tanker standards and/or of enforcement, as well as a reduction in response capability. Also, Black Swan-type events have to be anticipated. Complacency can also set in after years without a 'catastrophic' tanker incident, leading, for instance, to a reduction in response capacity. Enbridge Northern Gateway has also argued that if oil is going to be transported by sea ( and on a worldwide basis the bulk of it is! ), then it's better to do it in Canada than in countries where laws and safety standards are not as strictly enforced. That's small consolation for the coastal communities of northern and central BC, I should think.
Another argument has been made ( by, among others, a retired provincial oil spill expert who happens to be working for one of the NGOs in opposition to NGP ), that if it’s a choice of transporting oil on either the north coast of BC or the south coast, then better to go north, because the tankers will generally speaking be bigger ( VLCCs, for example ), the theory being that bigger tankers means less transits, which translates into less risk. Of course, the counterargument to this is that bigger tankers means potentially more oil spilled in any given incident. In other words, that knife cuts both ways.