Prince Rupert Hosts Enbridge Hearings

B. McPherson

Foreign companies and countries(China) control much of Canada's oil industry
Today the northern BC town of Prince Rupert hosted the panel hearing concerns and information about the effect of increased oil tanker traffic on the BC coast if the Enbridge Gateway pipelines are allowed to be built. It is estimated that over 200 supertankers will ply the treacherous coastline to carry oil sands product to Asia.

The hearings are expected to continue in Rupert until December 17.

To help underline the hazards of big ships and the ocean, a tanker limped into the Rupert harbour on the 6th with a crack in the hull. It is expected to be repaired and out on the water within a week. Further south, at Westshore Terminals, the big coal terminal, a freighter slammed into the trestle and coal loading facility destroying about 100 meters. The ship is reported to have had a pilot on board when the accident happened. Fortunately only coal tumbled into the ocean with this incident. Another incident with a car carrier and a bulk carrier off Holland this week has resulted in massive damage and at least 11 dead. Witness state that the bulk carrier failed to follow rules of the sea – human error.

The coast was recently rocked by a 7+ earthquake. This time a tsunami was not generated. The prospect of a tsunami roaring up Douglas Channel when it is being traversed by tankers is the thing of nightmares.

Enbridge representatives have repeated time and again that they will comply with all the laws that are in place. They do not extend their authority over the ships that will be drawn to the coast should the terminal at Kitimat get the go ahead. While the pipeline company may attempt to clean up spills from their pipelines, their responsibility will end at the spigot. Clean up and costs won’t be part of their mandate. They are currently playing their cards close to the chest with regards to who the owners of the company are. We do know that the Chinese government has invested heavily in the Alberta oil patch, spending billions to acquire oil companies, the latest to go is Nexen for $20 billion.

It was pointed out that chronic oily effluent from freighters has a cumulative effect on the wildlife, adding up to the impact of a major spill. More tankers will result in more effluent in the waters. The representative for Enbridge countered that the mystery spills could come from many sources other than tankers.

There is also concern for the whales in the region. Ship strikes have become a major cause of death for whales along the coast.

“Nature Canada is concerned that vessel strikes, oil spills, and habitat and prey disturbance could have catastrophic effects on marine birds along the tanker route and near the tanker port.
BC Parks lists more than 60 marine protected areas in the region, including the North Coast Fjords, Queen Charlotte Sound, Hecate Strait and Dixon Entrance.”Calgary Herald

 A Rupert city councillor presented the panel with a 40 000 signature petition protesting the pipeline.

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