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Concerning a column published on February 6, 2016 in the Journal de Québec and the Journal de Montréal, some clarification is necessary on tankers navigating the St. Lawrence River. The MIB would like to point out that:

1. Supertankers
No supertanker has ever travelled the St. Lawrence. By definition, a supertanker is a ship carrying oil and measuring more than 400 m in length. The maximum length of ships navigating the St. Lawrence is currently about 300 m.

2. Marine safety, prevention and oil spills
Tankers are subject to very strict, rigorous inspections and legislation.

The following is a summary of the main tanker security measures:

2.1. Transports Canada requirements:

  • Mandatory use of double hull tankers

    double coque
    Double hulled tanker
  • 2 pilots, depending on vessel size and season
  • Port State Control (PSC) program
    • A ship inspection program whereby foreign vessels entering Canadian waters are boarded and inspected to ensure compliance with various major international maritime conventions.

2.2. Ship owners transporting oil must:

  • Have an emergency response plan in case of oil pollution
  • Have environmental response equipment
  • Sign agreements with response organizations certified by Transport Canada

2.3. Navigating personnel for tankers:

  • To transport oil by ship, Transport Canada requires officers to have specific qualifications on their certificate of competency (petroleum product transportation)
  • Oil companies apply additional combined experience criteria for senior officers (time with the company, rank and type of vessel)

The MIB also points out that Canada has taken steps to improve tanker safety, including announcing its intention, in March 2013, to create a “World Class Tanker Safety System”, an initiative that includes legislative changes. For more information on this safety system, click here.

Learn more about tankers
Learn more about prevention and intervention