It’s not exactly smooth sailing

In response to MaryAnn Freeman’s letter regarding Enbridge’s plan ... her statements need to be put into perspective.

Dear Sir:

In response to MaryAnn Freeman’s letter regarding Enbridge’s plan to export crude oil using Douglas Channel, some of her statements need to be put into perspective.

The Bosporus is only 31 kilometres long. Add the 61 kilometre length of the Dardanelles to it and you have a total of 91 kilometres.

The Douglas Channel, on the other hand is 150 kilometres long from Kitimat to the open ocean. The Bosporus has one dangerous turn in it of 45 degrees, whereas the Douglas Channel has two turns going around Gill Island of 110 degrees.

The currents in the Douglas Channel are very strong and could prove to be dangerous to a vessel that has lost power or hydraulics.

Next, she talks about the 3000 temporary construction jobs and the 560 permanent jobs. I’m willing to bet the construction jobs will go mostly to Alberta or Saskatchewan workers as they have the huge pipeline companies able to take on a project of this magnitude. I don’t see very many jobs going to locals except the lower paying service industry jobs. I’m also willing to bet that the supply chain will be out of Edmonton and Calgary for the camps and catering.

I watched the huge influx of transient workers into B.C.’s Peace Country during the natural gas boom. Some of the local population either got displaced or had a very difficult time adapting to rental and house prices that jumped beyond reach. Some people had to move away because of it.

The coast has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Thousands of tourists flock here to experience what so many of us take for granted. Whale watchers, and ocean and river anglers, just to name two groups, spend a lot of money. These industries are a 100 per cent renewable resource that will make the coast hundreds of millions of dollars per year. There are about 17,000 people along the coast and the coastal rivers and lakes that rely on a clean watershed. Did you know, on average, the Skeena River commercial fishery is worth about $100 million per year? Fishing lodges that cater to foreigners are very lucrative and contribute to the local economy in a big way.

The Northern Gateway proposal is based on more than just tankers. There is a massive twin pipeline that has to be built to supply these tankers. There is the 36-inch diluted bitumen line, with a 20-inch condensate, or dilutant, to make the bitumen fluid enough to flow at high pressure. All the research I’ve done has told me the condensate is a carcinogen and any release could cause a lot of medical problems. The bitumen itself is extremely toxic to the environment in the event of a release.

All it would take is one large spill, tanker wreck or pipeline rupture to destroy for decades, much of what we enjoy, and take for granted. The Pine River pipeline rupture of August 2000 was a sweet crude release of a reported one million litres. The Pine River still has a zero fish retention quota from the headwaters to about 60 kilometres downstream of the pipeline break. That was a relatively small spill from a twelve inch line. Northern Gateway’s plan is of two larger pipes. The Exxon Valdez spill still hasn’t recovered and we just passed the twenty-fifth anniversary of that. Are we really that willing to put our lifestyle in jeopardy? I know I’m not.

Walter R. Fricke,

Terrace, B.C.