Seismic data sheds new light on Douglas Channel

Douglas Channel Watch updated Kitimat council on more information from Northern Gateway's JRP process.

Murray Minchin with the Douglas Channel Watch group updated council on the latest happenings relating to the Joint Review Panel (JRP) review of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

Minchin’s subject this time was a letter from the Department of Justice seeking to submit new evidence to the review relating to seismic information in the Douglas Channel.

Studies on the waterway have revealed a new fault line and the discovery of historical submarine landslides.

The report is titled Submarine Slope Failures and Tsunami Hazard in Coastal British Columbia: Douglas Channel and Kitimat Arm, and was prepared by the Geological Survey of Canada.

The evidence of these two historical slides — which occurred up to 10,000 years ago — indicates a moved volume of material greater than that of a known “slope failure” that occurred in the Kitimat Arm in 1975, which generated a tsunami with waves 8.2 m high.

This new report is preliminary and more time is needed to gather more data, explained Minchin at council.

However he said new legislation may make timelines too constricted to get the work done.

Recently passed legislation called Bill C-38, “makes it unlikely that the Natural Resources Canada investigation of the seismic hazards in the Douglas Channel will be understood in time to make an informed decision.”

Minchin also referenced an earlier promise from Enbridge that seismic activity would influence their decision to build.

“When Enbridge first came to Kitimat they said they would never build a pipeline in a seismically active area,” he said.

With this information presented, Minchin turned his attention to the council, asking them to attempt to influence the JRP to allow this new evidence into the review.

He had no immediate reply to that question, but he also had two others: one, asking if any councillors had shares in Enbridge, and also what the liability is for the District of Kitimat relating to possible spills.

On the subject of liability, Minchin said that the District of Kitimat was the owner/operator of the private Port of Kitimat.

Mario Feldhoff countered that belief saying he believed the port was operated by individual shippers and that a single body did not manage the entirety of it in the way Minchin described.

Minchin replied that within Enbridge’s proposal for the project Kitimat is mentioned, by the company, as the manager of the Port of Kitimat.

“If not you then who?” he asked.

On the matter of shares in the company, Feldhoff said that financial liabilities and assets have to be reported by councillors and that such information is public.