I believe British Columbia’s pristine coastal environment does not support a project like the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline and that the costs associated with it will greatly outweigh whatever benefit it will bring.
We will lose any claims we have as a world heritage site and of the primeval beauty we are so proud of. Pristine steelhead fishing and the great outdoors – the losses to tourism alone would make the pipeline a failure even without a spill.
The 80 or so permanent low paying jobs (after the construction stage) we may gain for the entire province doesn’t warrant the risk of losing everything what we value - our homes and our businesses, as well as the local assets and investments in the city of Terrace and all other northern communities.
My background is in geology. I have a Master’s of Science in Exploratory Geology and have studied tectonics and natural resources for 5 years at the University of Warsaw. I have also worked for oil and gas companies like Nova-Corp International and PCL-Braun-Simon in Calgary; therefore know firsthand how great is the risk of building the Enbridge pipeline .
The proposed ENGP is going to cross fairly seismically active areas of the Rockies, like the Cascadia fault which runs along the West Coast and active earthquake zones in the interior BC. This would have a tremendous impact on the safety of the proposed route of ENGP. Rock landslides, mudslides, flooding, erosion, and 15 feet plus of snow pack; avalanches, they are just a few examples of extreme weather in our north which could also adversely affect the safety of the proposed pipeline.
Aside from the human error factor (people get tired and make mistakes), there’s the dangerous nature of the tar sands oil – namely DilBit. DilBit stands for Diluted Bitumen, a heavier and dirtier form of conventional crude oil.
It is a highly corrosive, acidic and a potentially unstable blend of thick raw bitumen and volatile natural gas liquid. There is no doubt that the tar sand oil pipelines pose higher risks of leaks and ruptures than conventional crude oil pipelines due to the chemical instability of DilBit. This was confirmed by the oil spill in July 2010, which spilled close to one million gallons of DilBit oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River.
A coastal tanker spill is an additional threat to the proposed ENGP. The proposed course of oil tankers would run through the Douglas Channel, a waterway as narrow as 2 km in some places, lined with hidden rocks and other underwater obstacles.
According to Environment Canada, Douglas Channel is the world’s fourth most dangerous watercourse. The ENGP proposal has estimated 250 tankers per year would be required to cross the treacherous Douglas Channel before heading through the Hecate Strait.
Gale force winds are common in the channel and increase the risk of an oil tanker disaster. It should also be noted that a marine vessel as big as an oil tanker, in case of any emergency, needs close to 2 km to come to a full stop.
The company behind ENGP, Enbridge Inc. has an alarming record of environmental accidents and cost-cutting half-measures in regard of safety standards.
Between 1999 and 2008 Enbridge recorded 600 plus oil spills on its pipelines.
Below is a list of major pipeline spills:
2001 – Alberta: 1,003,800 gallons leaked
2002 – Minnesota, USA, 252,000 gallons leaked
2003 – Wisconsin, USA, 189,000 gallons leaked
2007 – North Dakota, USA, 9,030 gallons leaked
2007 – Wisconsin, USA, 176,000 gallons leaked
2009 – Alberta, 168,000 gallons leaked
2010 – North Dakota, USA, 126,000 gallons leaked
2010 – Michigan, USA, 877,000 gallons leaked
2011 – North West Territories, 63,000 gallons leaked
And yet our environmental protection agencies warn us that one gallon of motor oil can contaminate one million gallons of water in our rivers, lakes and ground water, so “please be responsible” they urge us “and recycle your engine oil through a certified by the government company.”
The question is not if the oil spill occurs, but when?
We can be rest assured that there will be spills: countless of little ones, then a couple of big ones in northern BC interior and finally a devastating tanker spill on our BC coast.
When they spill millions of gallons of DilBit, contaminate and destroy our land, rivers, lakes and ocean we will all regret it. We will try to sell our houses and businesses for a fraction of their original price and move quietly somewhere else, full of guilt knowing we didn't do enough to stop this project in time.
When we are evicted from our unsafe houses and lose our jobs we shouldn’t rely on compensation from Enbridge Inc. either.
Victims of the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 are still waiting for their compensations, 21 years after the oil spill !!! The cleanup of this spill cost was more than $2.5 billion and still approximately 20 acres of shoreline in Prince William Sound are contaminated with oil.
Please, if you love our wild north as I do, love our beautiful and pristine province and want to stay here for years to come - act now. If you are a true British Columbian please stand up today against the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline project, if not for yourself - do it for your children and grandchildren.
Ann Parker, Terrace, BC