Haida Gwai Earthquake Raises New Questions for Enbridge

B. McPherson

The 7.7 earthquake off the BC coast on Saturday night raises new questions about the safety of bringing more supertankers to Kitimat. Enbridge Corporation is in the process of trying to get approval for a twinned pipeline through BC for its Tar Sands bitumen.

When the earthquake hit the islands of Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands) there was little damage done and no fatalities. The islands are sparsely populated which helped lower the danger. The massive earthquake shook the ground hundreds of miles away in Alberta.

We usually see a tsunami accompany such a large land slip. Destructive tsunamis hitting the coast of Japan in 2011 showed the world the destructive power of the ocean. The BC earthquake generated tsunami warnings and alerts, but generated only small waves along the coast and Hawaii.

The coast of British Columbia is the most active in N. America and part of the Ring of Fire that circles the Pacific Ocean. This is the area that Enbridge wishes to build its pipelines and bring oil and solvents in to the fiord at Kitimat. If you saw the terrible destruction wrought on the Japanese town in the ocean side valley you can image a tsunami barreling down the Douglas Channel and what it could do to tankers both inbound with cargoes of poisonous solvents and outbound with a load of bitumen. Storage tankers on shore would crumple and release their contents and the pipelines would rupture.

The BC coast is overdue for another “Big One” and the population is constantly reminded about emergency preparedness. Just last week the province held their annual Shake Out in which all residents are encouraged to participate in earthquake drills. We will have more earthquakes and maybe next time we won’t be so lucky to be spared a devastating tsunami. The people of Fukushima were assured that their power plants were safe. Enbridge is trying to tell the public that their pipelines and modern tankers are safe. Sure they are. Just like the nuclear power plants.

Those protesting the plans for the Northern Gateway Pipelines are told the chances of such a catastrophe are very small. That may be, but when a catastrophe happens, it will be too late to save the coastline.

Then will we say “but when a thing is done, it cannot be undone”  French proverb.

If you build it, it will leak.

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