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What if oil spilled in Canadian waters?

The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has many Canadians wondering, 'what if that happened here?'

The Gulf from above during the 2010 disaster
The Gulf from above during the 2010 disaster

The 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will go down in history as one of the United States' worst environmental disasters.

It made headlines all over the world, including here in Canada. And it has many of us wondering, “what if that happened here?”

Well, a similar situation has happened before.

In 1982, an oil rig sank off the coast of Newfoundland. The rig was thought to be unsinkable, but a powerful storm proved otherwise. 84 workers were killed.

The Gulf disaster had a devastating impact on marine life; a Canadian disaster could do the same
The Gulf disaster had a devastating impact on marine life; a Canadian disaster could do the same

The sinking of this rig did not trigger the same kind of oil spill as the Deepwater Horizon platform in the Gulf, but it serves as a reminder that this could happen in Canadian waters.

Gerald Butts, President and CEO of WWF Canada, says a spill in Canada would be devastating for the Arctic.

“Canadians think of the Arctic as a frozen wasteland when really it’s one of the most productive ecosystems on earth,” he told The Weather Network. “Some of the biggest fisheries are in the Arctic so it would be a major, major problem.”

So, what can Canadians do?

Butts says living in eco-friendly ways can keep an environmental disaster from happening here at home.

“The truth of the matter is there aren’t one or two big bad guys out there,” he says. “We all contribute to the need for oil by the lifestyles that we have so if you’re a Canadian who is interested in what they can do, I would say start using alternative transportation methods, first and foremost and look at your energy use as well.”

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