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REPORTING · 30th June 2010
Walter McFarlane

Dave Shannon took the stand at the City Council Meeting on Monday, June 21st to speak on the topic of Enbridge. There was a power point presentation set up to so Council could see what he was talking about.

He expressed that he was not here to attack anybody but to present on a few of the items in the Enbridge Brochure. He had two Power Point presentations to present on, the first called: “Safe Passage.”

He put up a map of the Douglass Channel which showed both the Northern and Southern Pass. “From the Enbridge Brochure, safe passage is identified by the fact that the narrowest channel width on any of their approaches away from Kitimat is 1.4 Kilometres wide or 3 or 4 times the transport Canada minimum,” said Shannon.

He explained although we exceed the Transport Canada minimum, there is more involved. Operating speeds, overtaking, the width of the channel should include a zone between the lanes, the channel should be wider in the bends and ‘S’ curves are to be avoided.

He moved on to tugs. He explained there are three ways a tugboat could assist a disabled tanker with a 35 degree locked over rudder. A tug in this scenario can tug which means to assist the tanker by pulling against the turn to slow down the ship, assist, which means to exaggerate the turn or oppose the turn to correct the course.

He said with best tugs, a tractor tug, an oppose manoeuvre would take 5000 feet to be effective. He estimated at the narrowest points in the channel, are 2000 feet wide. He showed several locations on the proposed rout with both no response from the tug or the oppose manoeuvre overlaid to display how the tugs would have trouble correcting the course.

“The reason [the] 35 degree locked over rudder is important is it is one of the provisions of the OPA90 Oil Protection Act 1990 which requires that any oil tanker having distressed should be capable of having assistance from a tug boat under the worst situation and the worst situation is a 35 degree locked over rudder,” said Shannon.

He showed more slides from marine charts. He said there was concern about the phasing out of two tug escorts with the phasing in of double hulled tankers.

Shannon then showed the Council the ports from around world Kitimat is being compared to. Mongstad Norway has a straight line to the open ocean. Valdez also has a straight line to open ocean. Kitimat at the same scale is longer and more restricted then any of the other channels.

“I think that we have a lot of reason to be concerned with that,” said Shannon.

He quoted Michael Ignatieff from the Union of Canadian Municipalities: “My own view is the environmental risks outweigh the benefits.”

Councillor Richard McLaren thanked him for the presentation but stated he should have included the port of Vancouver which has tankers which have to go under the Second Narrowest Bridge in Vancouver and have to dodge cruise ships. Shannon said there was a difference in distance as well. McLaren stated the tankers have to navigate the Gulf island and asked how many accidents they have had. Shannon reminded him the Heavy Lion Ran around in December, 2009 on one of the Gulf islands filled with oil. Fortunately, it did not spill. He also reminded McLaren the tankers leaving Vancouver were 1/3 the size and 1/3 the length proposed for Kitimat.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked Shannon to give his presentation for the Joint Review Panel. He also reminded Shannon that Ignatieff was in the NDP government who pre-empted the KCP decision. He wanted to see the Joint Review Panel run it’s course.

Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted some information on the issue on Double Hulled Tankers from the OPA90. Shannon explained the OPA90 was created after the Exxon Valdez. He explained if the Exxon Valdez had been doubled hulled, the oil spilt would have been less. This was brought in to phase out singled hulled tankers and implement double hulled tankers.

Councillor Bob Corless wanted to learn Shannon’s background. Shannon explained he was a professional engineer who is retired, he worked for Rio Tinto Alcan. He has a brief background at sea. It was his wife who made him interested in Enbridge.

Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know if the Exxon Valdez was a single or a double hulled ship. “The problem with the Exxon Valdez was that it got punched twice where there was a double hull,” said Shannon. He explained their was a tank for ballasting the water from the vessel. Due to this, the tanker was punctured in an area with a double hull. “There are some theories that the Exxon Valdez was badly enough damaged that not even a double hull would save it,” said Shannon.

Monaghan commented she has read the official reports from the Transportation Committee and the Ministry from the United States who specify the Exxon Valdez as a single hulled vessel. Shannon requested to make his second presentation. He was given permission.

It was entitled: ‘Human Error and Ships at Sea.’ Shannon provided information on ships which went down due to human error.

He talked about the Braer which took seawater into the fuel tanks after someone left the fuel lines open, the Northern Adventurer who’s lube oil was mixed with contaminated water, the Cosco Busan which sideswiped a bridge in San Francisco while the pilot was impaired by medication, the Alyeska whose tug was struck by another escort service for the vessel, the Sea Voyager which went aground in March of 2007 in fair weather, the Pathfinder which ran aground on the same reef of the Exxon Valdez, the Eli which snapped in half because it was not ballasted property and the Eagle Otome a doubled hulled tanker which hit a barge or vice versa.

Shannon stated “No ship is immune to Human Error. It happens with ferries, container ships, tankers or tug boat escorts,” said Shannon.

He encouraged Council to use their best Judgement when determining whether they will support tankers in Kitimat.

McLaren asked Shannon if he was opposed to Ferries on the West Coast as well and accused him of being choosy when he said no. Then interrupted him when he explained he was worried about the nature of the spill and the quantity of the pollutants.

Shannon explained the tankers Kitimat currently hosts have shorter lasting effects if they were to spill oil. Feldhoff again asked Shannon to present to the Joint Review Panel.