Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Independent offshore safety regulator could address conflict within CNLOPB: Justice Robert Wells

I posed the following question on Thursday, Dec. 5th, to Justice Robert Wells, who headed the inquiry into the crash of Cougar Helicopters Flight 491 offshore Newfoundland. Wells appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources, which is holding hearings into Bill C-5: Offshore Health and Safety Act. 

Mr. Ryan Cleary: Thank you, Peter. I have just one quick question.

The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board, are both responsible for safety.

 They are responsible for the environmental impact and industry regulation.

Now, some people, critics—and I know you've addressed this in your report as well—say that creates a potential conflict, a perceived conflict.

My question is wouldn't an independent safety regulator address that conflict where C-5, this offshore health and safety act would not?

Hon. Robert Wells: It could.

I don't think this occupational health and safety act—I think it's a good act, I would like to see it passed—would benefit everybody, but it doesn't necessarily address the questions which even the present regulators some of them may have to address or an offshore safety regulator.

It's not a complete panacea for everything. It deals with occupational health and safety but not every issue that may come before a regulator.

But, Mr. Barnes is quite right that regulators, as industry itself, has the option of always exceeding governmental standards and that happens. There's no question about that.

The Chair: Thank you and thank you, Mr. Julian and Mr. Cleary.

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