Enbridge Points Out Difference Between a Leak and a Valve Failure

B. McPherson

It's not if a tanker spill will occur, but when.
Late Sunday night workers testing a valve at an Enbridge pipeline reported a failure of the valve. The important pipeline which moves oil to Sarnia Ontario failed. There were unconfirmed reports that oil leaked and water escaped from the pipeline, but Enbridge officials were quick to point out that the problem was a valve failure, not a leak. In any case, if oil fouls the inside the fenced off area and does not foul the area beyond, the oil transport company is not obligated to report it as a leak.

Enbridge has been under increasing pressure from residents of British Columbia who oppose the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline through the wilderness area of the Great Bear Rainforest. Indigenous people have spoken against it, environmentalists and people who work on the coastal waters have all expressed dismay at the thought of punching an oil pipeline through the pristine wilderness.

Since the damning report about Enbridge’s behavior during the massive oil spill into the Kalamazoo River was made public, opposition has jelled even more. The Liberal Premier, friend of big business, Christie Clark, is now trying to find a place to stand on the issue. Formerly her government tacitly supported the pipeline by not objecting to it while the NDP opposition party has been vociferous in its opposition. The NDP are expected by many to form the next provincial government.

To counter some of the public’s objections to the pipeline proposal, Enbridge has announced an additional $500 million upgrade to the proposed pipeline, doubling its thickness where it crosses rivers. There was no announcement about how they plan to counter the earthquakes and landslides in the seismically active area.

In addition to worries about the environmental impact on the land if the pipeline is built is the probability of a catastrophic oil spill from the tanker traffic loading up at the port of Kitimat. The BC coast is known for its treacherous weather and reefs. The Exxon Valdes spill more than 20 years ago still affects Prince William Sound. Oil lurks below the rocks and pebbles leaching into the water. A BC government ferry sunk off the coast a few years ago and still burbs oil into the water at Hartley Bay. Both of these disasters were a result of human error.

The executive director of BC Coastal First Nations expressed the thoughts of many coastal residents very well.
“These tankers are still going to be going through the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world, and they still have the potential to wipe out everything on the cost of British Columbia with absolutely no benefits going to anybody in B.C.," Art Sterritt said. CBC News

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