Conservationists take issue with Enbridge over spill inevitability

Re: “Enbridge: spills are not inevitable” (Sentinel, June 10), the marine approaches to the coast of northern BC and the port of Kitimat are a dangerous coastline for ships.

Dear sir,

Re: “Enbridge: spills are not inevitable” (Sentinel, June 10), the marine approaches to the coast of northern BC and the port of Kitimat are a dangerous coastline for ships.

This area is at least as dangerous as Prince William Sound, where the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in Valdez Arm in a navigable channel almost 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) wide.

To enter Kitimat, supertankers will need to transit Douglas Channel, which is 1.35 kilometres (0.84 miles) wide at the narrowest point.

Severe weather heightens the risk of shipping accidents.

An estimated 225 supertankers per year would enter Kitimat to load approximately 318 million litres (2 million barrels) of oil for shipment to American and Asian markets.

Loaded tankers would pass directly through Wright Sound, a body of water with more than 5,000 vessels moving through it annually.

More than 400,000 vessel movements occur annually on the BC coast, so it is not surprising that accidents are common, including collisions, groundings, fires on board, etc.

Even vessels with state of the art navigational equipment are vulnerable.

Should an accident occur off the BC coast involving a large ship, serious inadequacies in response capabilities would hinder rescue and containment operations.

The south coast, for example, relies heavily on the availability of American rescue tugs based out of Washington state to respond to incidents.

Moreover, procedures between the provincial government and the federal government to co-ordinate responses to large vessel incidents at sea are not well harmonized.

In the past, this has resulted in considerable delays, as evidenced in the Leroy Trucking barge incident, or no response at all, as in the sinking of the Queen of the North.

A November 2010 article by Postmedia News revealed that according to an internal audit “The Canadian Coast Guard lacks the training, equipment and management systems to fulfill its duties to respond to offshore pollution incidents such as oil spills . . . The audit paints an alarming picture of an agency that would play a key role in Canada’s response to a major oil spill off the world’s longest coastline.”

The article also identifies the relatively paltry budget of $9.8 million for the coast guard’s environmental response unit.

Enbridge manager of engineering Ray Doering’s claim that a spill “is likely never going to occur” contradicts Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel’s statements in an April 2010 Globe and Mail article in which Daniel said “Can we promise there will never be an accident? No. Nobody can.”

Enbridge asserts they would not be financially liable for any oil spill at sea, while a June 2010 Vancouver Sun report revealed that owners of the tankers are liable for the costs of oil recovery, cleanup and compensation for environmental damage – but only to the limit of their liability insurance.

Economists have tried to predict the costs of oil spill clean up. Globally, the cost to industry for spill cleanup averages $16,000 US per tonne, not including the costs to restore habitat or repair socio-economic damages to the communities impacted.

In 2003, the cost of cleaning up a 378,000-litre heavy fuel oil spill in San Francisco Bay was an estimated $93 million.

Forty to sixty percent of the estimated cost was attributed to restoring habitat and compensating for socio-economic losses.

However, in 2007 when the Cosco Busan spilled a little over half that amount into the Bay, the cost for the clean up alone was $70 million.

In other words, true costs dramatically exceeded the estimates.

Attaching a dollar value to the damage that spilled oil does to marine and terrestrial ecosystems is an extremely difficult task.

The Exxon Valdez spill was the most expensive in history; the true costs were estimated to be $9.5 billion, of which only $2.5 billion were related to clean-up.

While Exxon-Mobil paid more than $1 billion, US taxpayers ended up footing the bill for the rest.

But does any oil spill damage cost estimate even begin to cover the price of a pod of killer whales driven to extinction or the demise of a coastal fishing community’s way of life?

Chris Genovali,Executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation and

Misty MacDuffee, conservation biologist with Raincoast.

 

Just Posted

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

Shoes are being left at the viewpoint on Haisla Blvd in response to the 215 bodies discovered at the Kamloops Residential School. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Haisla Nation responds to 215 Indigenous children found buried at the site of Kamloops Indian Residential School

“Many Haisla children were sent far away, to places such as Port Alberni, and to Coqualeetza”

Susan Jay hosted a plant and garage sale on May 25 and donated all of her proceeds to the Kitimat General Hospital Foundation to help with the purchase of a new bus for residents at Mountain View Lodge, Delta King and the new Kitimat Valley Housing Society dementia home. (Barbara Campbell photo)
KGHF thanks Susan Jay for her help to purchase a new bus for seniors in multi-level care

Susan donated all proceeds to KGHF, her efforts netted the hospital foundation a total of $1,760

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read