Reaction to Transport Canada’s release of its TERMPOL finding was swift, and predictable.
Janet Holder, Enbridge’s senior executive with responsibility for Northern Gateway, welcomed the report as “a very positive step forward in the public review of the project.”
She said it was important for the public – and BC residents in particular – “to know that we’ve done our homework and that our marine plan has been thoroughly reviewed.”
Holder said the TERMPOL report underlined that the project was “well planned and safe – and indeed would enhance safety for all shipping on BC’s north coast.”
However, the Coastal First Nations took quite a different view.
Art Sterritt, the executive director of the CFN, said the decision was “unfathomable”.
Charging that “numerous safety issues” such as “treacherous passage ways, poor weather conditions and human error” were either minimized or ignored by Transport Canada, Sterritt said, “It is nonsensical to say there will always be residual risk in any project. This shocking decision means a disproportionate share of risk clearly falls on the people who live within the Great Bear Rainforest.”
Sterritt pointed out that the CFN had recently completed a report called ‘A Review of Potential Impacts to Coastal First Nations from an Oil Tanker Spill Associated with the Northern Gateway Project’ which had pointed out “a tanker spill would cause catastrophic economic, environmental and cultural damage.”
He said the report found that many of the response techniques identified by Enbridge, including booming around tankers to contain spilled oil, skimmers and booms used to remove oil, and re-direction to sensitive areas are similar to methods used during the Exxon Valdez cleanup.
“The Exxon Valdez experience shows these response techniques were largely ineffective in containing and collecting spilled oil. These techniques resulted in the recovery of only 14 per cent of the original amount of oil released.”
Sterritt said the CFN would do whatever was necessary to stop oil tankers coming into Kitimat.