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Natural Resources
March 12, 2012

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Natural Resources:

Minister Commemorates Three-Year Anniversary of Cougar Flight 491 Tragedy

I rise today in this Honourable House to commemorate the anniversary of Cougar Flight 491, and the unspeakable tragedy that occurred off the shores of our province three years ago today, on March 12, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, March 12 marks a sad day in our province’s history, one which will never be forgotten and has touched all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, as well as individuals throughout the country. I stand today to pay tribute to the 17 lives lost, and to send our thoughts to those left behind. It is a tragedy which will forever remind us of the harsh environment and conditions in the North Atlantic, and the importance of a strong, safety culture for those who make a living from the offshore.

Worker safety and environmental protection are paramount in our province’s offshore and tragedies like Cougar Flight 491 are a reminder that constant vigilance is necessary to mitigate the risks as we strive to ensure a safe workplace for the men and women of our province. We have accepted all 29 recommendations of Commissioner Robert Wells’ report of the Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry including Recommendation 29 which calls for a separate standalone safety regulator.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil industry has unfortunately experienced two tragic helicopter crashes at sea; it would be remiss not to reference the other tragedy – the loss of six individuals on March 13, 1985, when a Universal helicopter under contract from Petro-Canada crashed near Argentia. Our government has committed to commemorate the lives lost in the pursuit of a livelihood in our offshore oil industry. We are currently seeking input from families to determine how best to honour their memories.

Mr. Speaker, we understand well the dangers associated with the province’s offshore, and will continue to advocate for the safety of offshore workers to ensure they have the best protection possible in their travels to the offshore.

2012 03 12             1:45 p.m.

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