Regulator says Newfoundland’s largest-ever oil spill is now impossible to clean up

It’s now impossible to clean up Newfoundland’s largest-ever oil spill that leaked into the ocean last week, according to the regulatory board that oversees the province’s offshore activities.

The 250,000-litre spill happened on Friday morning while Husky Energy’s SeaRose platform was preparing to restart production during a fierce storm that was, at the time, the most intense in the world.

Scott Tessier, chief executive of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, said no oil sheens were spotted on the water on Monday or Tuesday, meaning the oil has likely broken down to the point that it cannot be cleaned up.

The board is now focused on wildlife monitoring and its investigation into the incident.

Husky said Tuesday 14 oiled seabirds have been confirmed.

Operators are responsible for following their own safety and environmental plans, said Tessier, and while all operators shut down in light of the storm, only Husky Energy attempted to restart production.

The board recently found Husky Energy failed to follow its ice management plan during a 2017 near-miss between the SeaRose and a large iceberg, an event Tessier said will be considered in the current investigation.

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