Last week I was lucky enough to sit in on a council meeting with the National Energy Board (NEB) and a council meeting and community consultation with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC).

The NEB was in town on Monday to meet with the hamlet council and do a community consultation regarding a proposed seismic testing project. In June 2014 the NEB approved a proposal from a Norwegian-based consortium to complete five years of seismic testing in the Davis Strait east of Baffin Island (Lamb, 2015). Seismic testing maps the geology of the sea floor and identifies potential oil and gas deposits using loud, high-intensity sounds (Lamb, 2015). Refer to Figure 1 for a diagram of offshore seismic testing. The testing was set to begin this summer and cover the area outlined in Figure 2.

The proposed testing was strongly opposed by the hamlet of Clyde River and an appeal was submitted to the Federal Court of Appeal on July 28, 2014 on behalf of the Hamlet of Clyde River, the Nammautaq Hunters and Trappers Organization of Clyde River, and Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine (Lamb, 2015). The goal of appeal was to prevent the consortium from going ahead until a federal environmental assessment, which is currently underway, is completed.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/clyde-river-nunavut-takes-on-oil-industry-over-seismic-testing-1.3014742

We were lucky enough to find out first hand from the NEB representative that the consortium has cancelled it’s plans for seismic testing for the summer 2015. The Federal Court of Appeal still hasn’t come to a decision on the appeal but the company has pulled out for this year either way. The project has been delayed this summer but the court ruling and the environmental assessment are not yet completed and it will be interesting to see the outcome.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/controversial-seismic-testing-off-baffin-island-cancelled-for-summer/article24643060/

The Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) was in town on Wednesday to discuss potential research that may take place in Cumberland Sound this summer.  They had a meeting with the council and a public consultation in the evening. The GSC will be using multi-beam bathymetry sonar and ocean floor sampling to map the sea floor and get a better idea of the types of soils and microbial life present along the sea floor. This was just one of the communities the GSC was visiting to present results from previous research projects in the area and to get input and approval for research this summer. One interesting thing I learned is that this area is quite tectonically active with a fair amount of earthquakes (George, 2011). Figure 3 shows earthquakes in the region from March 2010 to March 2011. When they opened up the floor for questions and comments there were elders in the crowd who spoke of events in the past where the sea ice was moving in large waves which would occur during an earthquake.

In my opinion the GSC seemed to do a pretty good job of engaging with the community. One of the goals of this visit was to inform the community of the research and essentially ask their permission if it was alright for the GSC to complete the research in Cumberland Sound.

To be able to sit in on these meetings was a great opportunity and I will definitely be following each project.

Sources:

Galbraith, P. (2014). “Physical Oceanography Conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2014.” Retrieved May25, 2015, from http://www.qc.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/infoceans/201502/article6-eng.html.

George, J. (2011, March 12). “Canada’s Arctic, a hotspot for earthquakes.” Nunatsiaq News. from http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/1248_canadas_arctic_a_hotspot_for_earthquakes/.

Gregoire, L. (2014, June 27). “Nunavut mayor vows to continue fight against seismic testing.” Nunatsiaq News. from http://www.nunatsiaqonline.ca/stories/article/65674nunavut_mayor_vows_to_continue_fight_against_seismic_testing/.

Lamb, D. M. (2015, March 30). “Clyde River, Nunavut, takes on oil industry over seismic testing.” from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/clyde-river-nunavut-takes-on-oil-industry-over-seismic-testing-1.3014742.

Solutions, O. S. (2013). “Offshore.” from http://www.oilspillsolutions.org/offshore.htm.

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