HALIFAX — The Canadian Coast Guard is sending half of its ocean boom to the Gulf of Mexico to help U.S. authorities deal with the massive oil cleanup effort.
Over 3,000 metres of the floating containment system will be trucked over the next few days to Mobile, Ala., for deployment, Gail Shea, the minister responsible for the coast guard, announced Sunday.
“This came about because we have offered assistance to the United States and we got the official request on Friday,” Shea said following a media briefing at the coast guard base.
“I would expect they will take all they can get, even though they have a lot of boom there now.”
Shea said Ottawa will do what it can to maximize its contribution to cleanup efforts.
Canada has already sent scientists from the Centre for Offshore Oil and Gas Environmental Research to monitor the effects of oil dispersants, as well as a plane to track the course of the slicks.
Kenneth Lee, an oil spill remediation expert with the centre, has just returned from the Gulf coast, where he was helping monitor the spread of the oil.
“There’s a lot of activity down there and I don’t think people realize how hard the effort is to try and stop this spill,” he said.
Lee said Canadian researchers are among those keeping close tabs on the effects of sub-surface oil dispersants being used to try to prevent huge slicks from forming.
“By injecting the dispersant directly into the wellhead, you’re actually reducing the amount of oil coming to the surface at the site,” he said.
The boom being sent is not reusable but Shea said the federal government expects to recover the $3 million cost.
The disaster began unfolding nearly seven weeks ago after a BP rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and rupturing the wellhead 1.6 kilometres below the surface.