One of the sometimes challenging elements of the C-NLOPB’s regulatory oversight is deciding when and how to provide information to the public on incidents that take place offshore. We serve as the public’s “eyes and ears” offshore, and people have every right to be kept informed when it comes to serious incidents, trends in safety, spills and unauthorized discharges that occur on or in our ocean. But we also need to deliver this role responsibly.
While offshore operators have an important responsibility to the public in this regard, the tricky part for regulators can be how to best convey or supplement information from the industry in a way that is commensurate with the risk and effect of offshore activities and incidents, and to ensure transparency without sounding undue alarm. In my time as Chair and Chief Executive Officer, the Board has alternately been cast at times as unduly alarmist in its release of information, or other times criticized for a lack of transparency.
We have a variety of tools at our disposal when it comes to public disclosure of incidents, including regular updates and reports on our website, and more focused Incident Bulletins that are “pushed out” via Twitter. The sharing of information with the public is dealt with to a degree in the Atlantic Accord Implementation Acts, but it is also entrusted to the professional judgement and discretion of our Executive, Chief Safety Officer and Chief Conservation Officer, along with our legal and communications advisors. We consider various audiences in the course of these decisions: the offshore workforce, their families and loved ones, other industry players and regulators, media and the general public. Whether or not a matter is the subject of an ongoing investigation or enquiry may also affect our thinking and approach.
We are working to provide more information about the types of considerations we undertake in this regard and codify them into a “Policy Respecting Public Disclosure of Incidents”, which is a new approach for the Board. We thought it would be quite appropriate to engage stakeholders and the public in its development. As such, we are inviting comments on a draft of the Policy. Comments may be submitted until March 22, 2018, after which we will review the feedback received and finalize the Policy for Board approval and publication. Further information on the draft Policy and submission of comments can be found here .
There will be no reduction in the amount of information available to the public through implementation of this new Policy. It aims to explain what types of incidents or events may prompt an Incident Bulletin, versus what the Board views as information that would be appropriately shared via a quarterly report or website posting. It also commits to timely, public posting of our Notices of Non-Compliance and/or Orders to Comply.
As always, I thank you for your interest in the work of the C-NLOPB and appreciate your feedback.
The updated final policy can be found here.
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