With regard to the upcoming joint review panel meeting in Kelowna on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway oil pipeline, it is important that British Columbians be made aware of the following.
Transport Canada's and Enbridge's TV messages are telling us that oil tanker traffic out of Kitimat will be safe, since the company has committed to various safeguards, such as escort and tethered tugs, enhanced coastal radar systems and independent B.C. pilots.
Gerald Graham, a marine consultant involved in B.C. oil-spill issues for over 25 years, in his submission to the panel, said the marine component of the project "is not, in fact, safe," the risks of a tanker spill are simply too great for the project to proceed due to the isolated coastline, lack of infrastructure, powerful storms and the fact of what the TV messages are not telling us - that Enbridge's responsibility for an oil spill ends when the tankers leave port.
It is the owners of the tankers who will be responsible in case of a spill.
I believe these tankers will not be owned by Enbridge, but are likely to sail under foreign, low-cost flags of convenience, and that funds will not be available to clean up any spill, leaving it up to British Columbians to clean up any mess.
Minister of Environment Terry Lake tells us that, when asked about liability insurance, Enbridge came up with a low estimate of $60 million. In comparison, it cost $767 million to clean up the Kalamazoo River in Michigan following the 2010 Enbridge 800,000-gallon oil-spill.
I find it disturbing the B.C. government does not even have a veto - which is hard to comprehend. Instead, it can only apply for intervener status that would allow it to view documents and make submissions to the panel, but gives it no authority to approve or deny the pipeline while being forced to accept all the major risk of an oil spill. The issues that will make or break this project will fall mostly under federal jurisdiction.
An omnibus bill passed by Parliament has given Stephen Harper the last word.
I am puzzled why Ottawa is so eager to risk the irreversible and catastrophic consequences of a major oil spill on B.C.'s North Coast when there is a market for all our oil in North America.
Let us keep providing fuel for our own economies without any future dependence on foreign oil.
Let your MP know how you feel.