Risk vs. public reaction in marine oil spills: a case study analysis of six Atlantic Canadian marine vessel-sourced oil related incidents
Hayman, Timothy W.
MetadataShow full item record
Marine vessel-sourced oil related (MVSOR) incidents represent a potential threat to marine organisms and ecosystems in Atlantic Canada. The management of these incidents must involve management of the objective risks involved as well as the way the public reacts to the incident. Public risk perception may vary widely from the objective risks involved in an event, and can have a strong influence on the level of public reaction to an incident. This study tests the hypothesis that public reaction to an incident would correlate directly and positively with the level of risk involved in the incident. Six incident case studies are used from across a five-year period in Atlantic Canada, and examined through the analysis of incident case files held by the Canadian Coast Guard Environmental Response (Dartmouth, NS). Each case is analyzed to assess the level of risk of damages to the marine environment from oil and the level of public reaction to the incident, with disparities between the level of risk and level of reaction noted. As each incident is found to show such a disparity, a set often factors are identified that may have an influencing effect on public reaction. The potential influence of each factor is examined against all six case incidents, by identifying positive and negative correlations between the presence of the factor and the level of public reaction. Based on these influencing factors, a series of policy recommendations are proposed that suggest areas of focus for future improvements to environmental response and communications policies.