Independent safety board would keep public better informed

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael (MHA, Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi) says the lengthy delay in the public learning details of a Sikorsky helicopter incident more than two years ago is a clear example of why there should be an independent board tasked with offshore safety.

On July 23, 2011, Cougar helicopter flight 851 taking off from the SeaRose lost altitude suddenly; the drop was arrested 11.5 metres above the water. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board posted two incident bulletins; the most recent on August 11, 2011.

No more details about the incident were made known to the public until today, when the Transportation Safety Board released its investigation report.

“I am shocked that we find out only today, and only courtesy of the federal agency, what exactly happened on July 23, 2011 and what exactly Cougar did to help prevent a recurrence,” Michael said today.

“One of the recommendations Judge Robert Wells made in his November 2010 report on the Cougar 491 tragedy was the creation of a powerful independent offshore safety authority, as has been done in more progressive jurisdictions around the world such as Norway, Australia and the United States.”

The C-NLOPB’s mandate is to interpret and apply the provisions of the Atlantic Accord and the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts to all activities of operators in the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Area. “Safety is part of the mandate, but by no means the largest part,” Michael said. “This may explain the lack of communication around this important issue. I think an independent safety authority would have provided ongoing updates in the intervening two years.

“Our hundreds of offshore workers, their friends and family, deserve an independent authority responsible for overseeing offshore safety. Once again, I call on our government to pressure Ottawa to take action.”

Associated Caucus Members: 

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