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REPORTING · 6th October 2011
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat held an Educational Forum on the Northern Gateway Project on September 20th at Mount Elizabeth Theatre. The theatre was packed with people. Ron Poole, Municipal Manager for the District of Kitimat Moderated the Event. The presenters had an hour present, 15 minutes was allotted to Ellis Ross, Chief Councillor for Kitamaat Village, Mike Mike Bernier, Mayor of Dawson Creek, Greg Brown, from the Northwest Institute for Bio Regional Research, and John Caruthers, President of Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline, who presented in that order.

Questions Began

People from Kitimat and from all over got up and began to ask questions. Among their number were Gerrald Amos, Bruce Hill, Gerry Hummel, Dieter Wagner. A majority of the questions were asked to Caruthers. The others received a handful of questions.

Amos took the first question asking who the multinational companies who contributed money to Enbridge. Caruthers replied he could not answer the question with the exception of Thymotech. The others are producers in the Canadian region but they have not disclosed who they are.

Hill stated Enbridge had policies and technology in Kalamazoo. They were told about defects in the pipeline reported to them by the US. He wanted to know why we should trust them. Caruthers replied trust has to be earned by the company and it takes time to build. He said they were acting within the regulatory requirements of the US. They did their best to respond to it quickly and effectively.

The next question asked Brown what was missing from the Joint Review Panel Process. Brown replied there was a lack of representation from BC. He gave examples. He also said there was not a business case as there were no official contracts yet.

Liz Thorn, President of the Nordic Valley Ski Club, had recently seen a map of where the pipeline was going. She wanted to know how they could get on Enbridge’s Radar as the pipeline was scheduled to go through their ski trails and they were not informed. Caruthers replied maps are on their website and they could negotiate litigation.

The next person asked why the crude was not being refined in Alberta and how they can detect small leaks and respond in out of the way locations. Caruthers replied it was due to who would make this investment? It could be refined elsewhere in the world cheaper then it could be in Alberta. He said there were a number of systems which can detect leaks by measuring volume.

The next question was for Bernier. The questioner asked about growing a community and how big he wanted to grow it. Bernier replied they look at the question as they do not want to be a boom bust town. They communicate with industry and what the goals of the industry are. He could not answer what would be too big.

The next question pointed out 80% of BC was opposed and Caruthers had made a public statement about giving up on the pipeline if BC said no. He asked when does no mean no. Poole tried to pass on this question but Caruthers questioned the 80% poll and pointed out it was their job to talk to people and make sure they can make an informed decision.

Dave Shannon from Terrace pointed out there have been a double hulled incident once a year for the last two years. He asked how to boom oil when it is not buoyant after 6 hours. Caruthers said they would have to look at the different types of oil and there will be a number of techniques they will use.

Ruth Mueller asked how Kitimat could receive a fair review process. Brown replied they could complete the public inquiry which was started but never completed. He also suggested opposing the review process because they will record all comments. He said Canada is not acting like a responsible owner. He cited the appurtenance clause and how the economic forces took away the ability to mill logs.

The next question asked Ross if he was comforted by saying they will try to be as close to zero as they could while the Rodger Harris said a year ago the control centre will not be able to recognize a leak. Ross replied his duties at one time was to clean the Liquor our of the settlement pond at Eurocan and it was impossible to get everything back into the containers. “If there was a technology out there that could pick up crude oil on a calm day, 100%, I haven’t seen it. The Douglas Channel is never calm,” said Ross.

Wagner asked how they could be certain the risks are minimal concerning the distance and the number of turns and vetting can be purchased. Caruthers stated they started with a simulation to determine it could be done safely, included local pilots and make sure international vetting is proper.

Paul China wanted to know if the Kitimat Village would make a decision on Enbridge. Ross replied it was up to the community to make decision but their Council has to make sure they get the information to the people.

The next person stated people who are hungry make bad decisions. There are allot of raw resources heading out of the country. He wanted to know why Caruthers was not lobbying to keep jobs in the country. Caruthers stated he could not comment on this and argued the market and thousands of jobs would be created. He was told he was not answering the question. He stated the project was in Canada’s interests.

Hummel stated Kitimat gets the water from the Kitimat River. If there is a leak, would they pay for a new water system? Caruthers said yes and they will compensate for any damage in the case of a leak.

The next person stated she did not agree with the pipeline, said Enbridge did not have her permission to put it through Tsimshian Territory and asked to open dialogue. Caruthers said they will have dialogues and are in regular communication with all First Nations.

Patricia Lange said she was concerned about the size and the number of vessels as well as the noise levels. She asked what studies they are looking at and what they are going to do about the marine environment. Caruthers said they did a noise study at Prince William Sound. He said they will file the information.

Patrick Butler from Terrace pointed out pipelines could be blown up. Caruthers stated pipelines are buried and are hard to get too. There will be fencing and cameras at above ground facilities.

The next question asked if a pipe had to be shut down, what problems could be caused by starting it again. Caruthers said they produce 2 million barrels a day to be shipped and what is shipped in the pipeline is regulated. He was thanked for not asking the question.

Amos stood up and asked if the company will liquidate their assets to look after the region in the case of a spill. Caruthers replied they would not take the approach. They will take full responsibility to make certain people are taken care of. He said there are funds made available by the government for just such an emergency.

Jennifer Rice, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, asked if he could control the wording of the poll and half the people of BC chose not to support the project, would they still insist on building the pipeline. Caruthers replied it is their job to provide all of the information so they could make an informed decision on the project.

Danny Nunes pointed out: Kitimat is in an earthquake zone and asked if the pipes could withstand an earthquake. Caruthers pointed out Kitimat is not in an Earthquake zone, that is in Haida Gwaii. He said they will not be putting the pipeline through any faults.

The next question asked Greg Brown about the clean up on the Kalamazoo River. He did not know what the impact was.

The next person asked what action was taken the LNG tankers did not have an accident. Ross explained the LNG evaporates and does not get into the environment. He added the crown does not have money to regulate the LNG. This is a cost the Haisla have picked up. They are also monitoring the situation. “If the crown is not going to make companies comply to what they said in their assessment, who is going to do it?” asked Ross.

Cheryl Brown asked Brown if they all said no, would the project end. Brown replied the energy act is broad but the certificate is narrow.

The next person said: a pipeline spill would leak 1.3 million litres every 30 minutes. He asked how long the response to stop the leak would be. Caruthers said they would shut that down if they have a significant pressure drop. 2000 cubic metres would be the most released. It could take from 5-10 minutes.

The next question asked if Enbridge had ever built a pipeline like this in the same kind of terrain. The answer was a detailed yes, as pipelines are built around the world. The final question asked the entire panel: “Why do we have two RCMP Officer manning the front door.” While the question drew laughter, the answer given by Brown was: Alberta is a petrol state. With Canada revenue connected to oil, it is a sensitive topic when people are asking questions which make people in high places nervous because a lot of money is on the table. He pointed out Harper’s first day in office commented on the project.

With that, the forum was over. The people of Kitimat were respectful and asked a lot of questions.
so sad
Comment by Mel on 10th October 2011
This cartoon is just not funny. Whoever had the time to "doodle" this, maybe you need to go on one of the MANY calls police officers in this town have to go on, and every other town throughout Canada they have policed, and then you may understand even a SMALL PORTION of what they go through. "Until you walk in someones shoes....." It disgusts me that the people and media portray police officers as a joke, and condemn and blame them. Very sad. Hey maybe you should try it and see how you feel???!!!