08/05/2015 11:53 EDT | Updated 08/05/2016 01:12 EDT

Time allowed for Shell to cap Nova Scotia subsea well blowout too long: critics

HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia environmentalist is questioning why the federal environmental protection agency has approved an offshore drilling plan that allows up to 21 days to contain a subsea blowout, when the most recent U.S. regulation requires technology to be on hand to cap the blowout within 24 hours.

A Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency decision on the Shell Canada Ltd. deepwater project for the Shelburne Basin exploration off southern Nova Scotia issued earlier this year accepts a company spill containment plan that allows for capping in 12 to 21 days.

It is signed by federal Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

John Davis, a critic of the project, said in an interview that Shell should have to follow a recent decision by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that requires it to have a vessel carrying a capping system available within a day in the Chukchi Sea offshore Alaska project.

A spokesperson for the federal Environment Minister wasn't immediately available for comment.

In the federal environmental assessment report of June 15, the agency states a blowout in the seven planned wells is unlikely and notes Shell's containment plan allows for capping and containment in 12 to 21 days.


The Canadian Press