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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Northern Gateway Pipeline Proposal

Yesterday was the start of the public hearings for the proposed building of the Northern Gateway pipeline extending from Alberta's oil sands to the west coast of British Columbia (Kitimat).  If it goes ahead it would have the capacity to transport 525,000 barrels of oil daily (200 oil tankers per year) destined for U.S. and Asian markets.  The oil tankers would have to navigate185 km of inner coastal waters and the Great Bear Rainforest. 

In Kitamaat Village, where the first hearings are being held, Haisla Hereditary Chief, Ken Hall expressed his opposition to this project saying that it "put his people in the crosshairs of possible disaster and they must put threats to their homes and their children's future ahead of job prospects that might come from the pipeline."  Samuel Robinson, a Hereditary Chief and fisherman from Kitamaat Village also opposed the project.  "I know every inch of our territory.  The area's rich with seafood, halibut, cod, fur-bearing animals," he said.  "It worries me that all this will be lost or destroyed when there is a spill.  Mark my words: when there is a spill.  Experience knows it will happen."

I have my own misgivings about this project and the impact it will have on the environment.  The proposed pipeline stretches for 1,177 km and crosses some 1000 streams and rivers. Five major salmon rivers will be affected: Stuart River, Morice River, Copper River, Kitimat River, Salmon River. The upheaval to the land and waterways will be enormous.