B.C. continues tough questioning at pipeline hearings

  • Oct. 10, 2012 12:00 p.m.

Submitted by the B.C. government–The B.C. government resumed its questioning of Northern Gateway Pipelines (NGP) at the Joint Review Panel hearings in Prince George earlier this week, concentrating on key areas of concerns including safety, accident prevention and emergency preparedness and response.As a registered intervenor at the Joint Review Panel hearings, the government of B.C. will question NGP on their proposed land-based spill prevention, response and recovery systems. That will include seeking information about access to the pipeline, the potential location of spills and availability of equipment and personnel. B.C. will also be seeking more information about the nature of the monitoring systems that NGP is proposing, including leak detection systems. The B.C. government’s cross-examination took place in two segments, dealing with different aspects of the proposed project. B.C.’s Chief Legal Strategist Geoff Plant will be at the hearings on Tuesday.Underlying the latest round of questions are B.C.’s five minimum requirements that must be met for the government to consider the construction and operation of heavy oil pipelines within its borders. Those requirements are: . Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of the NGP, that means a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceeds. . World-leading marine oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments. . World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines. . Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy oil project. . British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the government, the environment and taxpayers. The B.C. government has already cross-examined NGP at the hearings in Edmonton. There, the cross-examination focused on Enbridge’s liability coverage, ownership structure and related financial matters. Financial solvency is a key factor when considering the risks and costs associated with any potential spill response and recovery.The government firmly believes in the polluter pay principle, and the evidence given by Enbridge in Edmonton left more questions than answers about whether the proponent will put arrangements in place to respect that principle. In late November, the government will cross-examination NGP at the hearings in Prince Rupert and will question the company on maritime spill prevention, response and recovery capabilities, including its commitments to exceed regulatory standards for spill response. The government of British Columbia will continue to ensure that any heavy oil pipeline proposal in the province meets the five requirements that have been established, thereby providing certainty, predictability and transparency about the government’s position on any heavy oil pipeline project proposal.