News & Issues

Enbridge called to produce more paperwork

The federal panel reviewing Enbridge’s proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline has called on the company to file more information on the pipeline’s design and risks.

The three-person panel made the determination following input from public sessions last fall that included Prince George.

Enbridge must submit the additional information before the review will move to the public hearing stage.

The requirement will increase the length of the review, already expected to take two years.

“In our review, the filed conceptual design of the pipeline system does not adequately address project-specific challenges and risks,” the panel wrote in its 24-page decision released Wednesday.

The panel said the application also does not integrate the risk assessment with the consequences on the environment and people from spills along the pipeline and at the marine terminal.

“Because these challenges and risks are not sufficiently identified, integrated and addressed in the application, the mitigative and preventative measures in the application cannot be reasonably assessed,” said the three-person panel chaired by Sheila Leggett, a National Energy Board member.

The National Energy Board is the lead agency in the federal review, which is a co-operative effort with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

The panel noted that more than half the 1,170-kilometre pipeline route traverses mountainous terrain, mostly in British Columbia.

The panel also noted the route crosses areas where there are high risks of avalanches, slides and earthquakes; unique environmental habitats important to fish; and communities dependent on the land.

Also on the panel’s list of characteristics that make the project unique:
■ The construction of tunnels through the Coastal mountains;
■ The high flow rate of 20,000 barrels per hour of oil, and 8,000 barrels per hour of condensate;
■ The potential for far-reaching environmental and human consequences if there is a spill of oil or condensate in populated or environmentally-sensitive areas;
■ And difficult access to the pipeline in all seasons.

The panel held preliminary hearings in Prince George, Kitimat and Whitecourt, Alta. in August and September to get input on issues to be reviewed.

The review list has also been expanded to include consultation with the public and Aboriginal groups as a separate issue.

The panel said it is not adding the environmental effects of expanded Alberta oil sands development, or the downstream impacts of oil sales from the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The panel also said there is no requirement to have commercial commitments in place for the project to be reviewed.

That issue is covered off under the requirement to demonstrate need for the project, said the panel.

All were highlighted as concerns during the fall input sessions.

Enbridge has already filed more than 14,000 pages of documents.

Enbridge spokesperson Gina Jordan said the company just received the panel’s findings. After reviewing them, the company may comment, she said.
Wednesday, 04 August 2022 15:16

Protect this Coast

Stop the Enbridge Pipeline - Support the North Coast Moratorium on Tanker Traffic

The north coast of British Columbia is home to the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world; in addition to the whales that rely on this pristine and quiet shoreline, it is a critical habitat for salmon, coastal wolves, bears, and an entire interdependent ecosystem.  Moreover, this coast is the cultural and economic backbone of several First Nations, including the Gitgaàt, Haisla, and Haida.  However, in the spring of 2010, the integrity of this coast and the livelihood of the peoples, whales and wildlife that depend on it are currently threatened with irreversible destruction.  This threat may become a reality unless we act together to stop the proposed Enbridge pipeline.

Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in Canada, has submitted a proposal to the Canadian government that will establish a twin pipeline from the Albertan tar sands to Kitimat, at which point supertankers, (the size of 3 footballs fields long and one football field wide) will load the petroleum cargo and transport it through the winding channels of the north coast and onward to clients overseas.

What's At Stake

This proposal presents Canada with a pressing environmental, economic and social decision.  Approving this project would enlarge oil extraction operations in northern Alberta and would be a major leap backward in the international effort to become oil independent.  It would further fuel the rise of oil-economies in developing nations during a time of global reckoning for the past century of oil use, sending them a regressive message as they face their own industrial adolescence.  By saying yes to Enbridge, we exonerate countries like China and India and supply them with the perfect excuse: 'If Canada cannot say no to oil, why should we?'

The First Nations communities that would be potentially affected by this project acted quickly and in a unified front to stop the approval of the Enbridge pipeline.  Their unanimous rejection of the project is an inspiring and far-sighted political stand, one that may or may not be recognized by the federal review board ruling on the decision.  If the federal government does not uphold their legal and fully entitled refusal of this proposal, it will establish a grim precedent for First Nations relations in the decades following peak oil.

Although the corporate supporters of this pipeline project promise revenue and jobs for the Canadian economy, its civic and ecological consequences — impacts that range from probable to certain — would far outweigh and eventually erase any short term economic stimulus.

As the Gulf BP oil disaster drags on, and in the ever-present wake of the Exxon-Valdez spill, the inevitable ramifications of oil trafficking does not need further elaboration.  The loss of north coast jobs relating to fisheries and ecotourism and the destruction of the region's subsistence lifestyles would only be a matter of time once supertankers are granted access to our winding channels.

Impact on Whales

In regards to whales, however, the fact of an eventual oil spill is not their only concern; the dangers of ship strikes and noise pollution are for more immediate to these populations that are only now beginning to rebound from half a century of whaling.  As we have emphasized throughout this website, all the cetaceans found on this coast rely on its acoustic qualities for feeding, communication, and reproduction.  The noise associated with oil supertanker traffic would either cripple their means of survival or drive them away from this coast indefinitely.

To learn more about the controversy surrounding this pipeline proposal, we recommend as a valuable online resource.