Enbridge not impressing Channel Watch

For all Enbridge’s assurances about its proposed Northern Gateway Project, Dieter Wagner remains unconvinced.

For all Enbridge’s assurances about its proposed Northern Gateway Project, Dieter Wagner remains unconvinced.

The chairman of the local group Douglas Channel Watch said, “They make nothing but promises which most often they are totally incapable of keeping.”

Saying the company’s sole focus was pushing the project through, he added, “In the end (the promises) will fall by the wayside.”

Wagner recalled Enbridge having pointed to the availability of an international clean-up fund of $1.3 billion that could be called upon in the event of a spill.

However, he noted the cost of cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez disaster was $3.5 billion, meaning Canadian taxpayers would be on the hook for most of the clean-up costs when the inevitable spill occured.

On the touted safety of double-hulled tankers, he said it is slowly coming out that they are not “the be all and end all”.

Wagner pointed to corrosion problems between the hulls and, worse, the ships are designed to “flex incredibly” which in turn means “they have an extremely high (metal) fatigue factor.”

He also pointed out that Caamano Sound has many granite reefs and if a tanker runs aground on one of those, it won’t matter how many hulls it has, “it’ll open up like a can opener.”

Chuckling at Chris Anderson’s contention that simulations have shown the Douglas Channel to be navigable by big tankers (Sentinel, February 9), Wagner said, “We have three 90 degree turns and anything is possible.”

While he agreed there is no gain without some form of risk, Wagner was adamant that with this project the risk was too great.

If after 22 years they are still finding crude oil one foot below the surface of gravel beaches in the Prince William Sound – site of the Exxon Valdez spill – he asked what would happen to the halibut, crab and the like when the tar-like bitumen from a tanker sank to the bottom of the Douglas Channel.

And provided his own answer – “It will be there for 100 years.”

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