Enbridge pipeline proposal concerns some islanders

  • Mar. 1, 2010 10:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay–An all-islands stance on the Enbridge pipeline project is being sought. A group of people calling themselves the Enbridge Awareness Group will be heading to municipal councils and other meetings over the next several weeks to call for a unified voice. Queen Charlotte councillor Kris Olsen is involved in the initiative and says he has two levels of concerns about the 1200 km pipeline project proposed to bring crude oil from the tar sands to Kitimat. He says first, the long-term effects could be disastrous to the North Coast and other communities along the way. The pipeline, which would be twinned to carry condensate (a petroleum product used to thin tar sands) eastwards and oil westwards, would mean more tanker traffic in the Hecate Strait. “The islands have had a stance against this for years,” he said. He said the increased potential for oil spills is just too great a risk. A letter written by the group and given to Islands elected leaders says that 220 plus more supertankers would be navigating through the channel that drains Kitimat’s watersheds and into Hecate Strait if the project proceeds. But Mr. Olsen is also concerned about the project because it is shipping raw materials from Canada to be processed elsewhere. “This is just what we are against here,” he said. He said the group is trying to be proactive while the project is still in its assessment phase. Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project will face a recently announced Joint Review Panel lead by the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment. According to Enbridge’s website, the NEB regulates the construction and operation of inter-provincial pipelines to ensure their safety, security and economic efficiency. Inter-provincial pipelines transporting petroleum products or natural gas require approval from the NEB before they can be built. In addition, the NEB will regulate the pipeline for its lifetime. The NEB and CEAA-led panel will hold public hearings along the route for Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and individuals to express their views and opinions on the pipeline directly to the government agencies. Several communities and groups along the pipeline path have already expressed grave concerns about the project including the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en. These and other groups are calling for a Public Inquiry into the value of the project, stating that the NEB’s process has only stopped one project since 1959.