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article imagePollution alert as the Hibernia oil platform spills oil

By Tim Sandle     Jul 19, 2019 in Environment
12,000 litres of oil (equivalent to 75 barrels) has been spilled into the ocean off Newfoundland. This has caused the oil rig to shut down and the incident has raised concerns for local wildlife.
The Hibernia oil platform is located off the coast of St. John's, in Canada. On July 17 2019 production was halted after a significant volume of oil (mixed with water) was spilled from one of six storage cells into the water. An oil sheen across the water (estimated to be 900 by 200 meters) was the first sign that something had gone awry.
The operating company has acknowledged the spill, although they have said it was an "isolated activity." Scott Sandlin, president of Hibernia Management and Development Company (HMDC), spoke about the issue with CBC News. He says that an "oily water discharge was released during a routine operation associated with lowering the water levels in those cells".
The cause is most likely to relate to a problem with a sensor, although a failure modes and effects investigation is continuing. The investigative process includes deploying surveillance flights and a tracking buoy.
Hibernia is an oil field located in the North Atlantic Ocean, operational since 1997 and positioned some 315 kilometres (196 miles) east-southeast of St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. The platform stands above in 80 meters of water. The platform is currently the world's largest and it storage tanks hold up to 1.3 million barrels (of 210,000 cubic meters) of crude oil.
The 2019 incident follows on from an incident in 2013. With the previous oil spill, the company had to pay a fine of $250,000.
With the spill, the impact on wildlife is currently uncertain. Wildlife observers are in the area undertaking assessments, although the Hibernia company itself (of which the biggest shareholder is ExxonMobil) has already reported that there is no impact on wildlife. Typically the environmental impact of an oil spill takes some time to assess.
More about Hibernia oil platform, Oil, Oil spill, Pollution
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