CONTRIBUTION · 16th November 2011
November 16, 2011
Open Letter to John Caruthers, President Northern Gateway Pipeline,
My name is Manny Arruda and this is the first time I have written an Open Letter. I am not affiliated with any organization, which is opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline. I use fuel in my vehicle, electricity in my home, natural gas in my furnace, and used to work in a petrochemical plant. I am not opposed to pipelines in general, however I am opposed to this pipeline project. Your proposed pipeline runs parallel to the upper Kitimat River and crosses over 219 rivers, creeks and drainages, in our valley, which lead into the Kitimat River and Estuary. I have the privilege of living, working, and playing in the Kitimat Valley, and have for the majority of my life.
Should a spill enter the Kitimat River Watershed, it is the people of the Kitimat Valley who take the unnecessary risk, with regards to our drinking water, employment, recreation, and livelihood, being adversely affected. The trade off for this risk? Fifty-two (52) full-time Enbridge jobs, minus the current Cenovus (Methanex) jobs, so approximately 25 net full-time Enbridge jobs in Kitimat.
On September 20th, 2011, I attended the Educational Forum on the Northern Gateway Project in Kitimat where you spoke of Enbridge needing to build trust within our community. Trust can only begin once truthful, accurate facts are shared, that respect the concerns that citizens have. At the forum Mr. Caruthers, you stated the Northern Gateway Pipeline would have remotely operated valves installed on each of the water crossings along the entire pipeline route. I was surprised that Enbridge would commit to putting isolation valves on each water crossing, as I had read there are 773 of them. After the forum Mr. Caruthers, when challenged, you clarified the isolation valves would not be on each water crossing, they would be on each major water crossing. I had the benefit of getting the truth after questioning your statement, the remaining people attending the forum did not. The inaccurate statement has been reported twice in the media since the forum. To date Enbridge has failed to set the record straight. Please clarify how many major water crossings there are in the Kitimat watershed.
This is not how you build trust. What else is Enbridge not sharing, or being truthful about? People are basing support or opposition to the project based on a lot of the information presented by Enbridge. If the information is not accurate, then the whole process is flawed. Shortly after your presentation I registered to present an oral presentation to the Joint Review Panel. I thank you for inspiring me to get off the couch, to get engaged, and to start researching the enormous amounts of documentation, to share with the community.
Since the forum, I have found out the following, from the Northern Gateway Website. There are in fact a total of 1564 watercourse crossings, not 773 along the pipeline right of way. Two hundred and nineteen (219) of these are in the Kitimat River Watershed. These include rivers, creeks and drainages.
If a pipeline spill were to occur Enbridge states that we could expect the following (from the Risk Assessment and Management of Spills, Vol. 7B, Northern Gateway Website):
• The Kitimat River could be shut down to fishing for four or more years to replenish fish mortality. The public would have to travel to their next preferred location at their own expense.
• Camping and boating could be closed to the public immediately after the incident, and could last for long periods of time.
• If the hydrocarbon in the watercourse sinks into the sediment, (which it did in your Kalamazoo, Michigan spill), contamination at depth would remain indefinitely.
• With mitigation and emergency response measures, soil contamination may last two to ten years in portions of the riverbanks and shorelines.
• Oiled birds are not usually cleaned unless they are species at risk; euthanasia is considered the most humane treatment.
This proposed oil pipeline is enormous, with key critical components reliant on humans to interpret, and react in abnormal operating conditions. For this reason human error can and will occur. A full public inquiry should have been undertaken. Instead Enbridge and the Federal Government opted for a Federal Environmental Assessment. Unfortunately, Environmental Assessments are designed to mitigate environmental damages, after the spill has occurred. The bigger question is should we be introducing large oil infrastructure to begin with, to the Kitimat Watershed and BC’s Northern Coastal Waters?
I would like to inform you that human error has already occurred in the Prepared Spill Response Control Points listed in the Northern Gateway Website.
Pages 193-199 of the River Control Points for Oil Spill Response Technical Data Report Appendix C.11: Kitimat, makes four references to Highway 25 Bridge that crosses the Kitimat river? Mr. Caruthers there is only one highway leading to and from Kitimat- Highway 37. You would have driven right past the signs on the side of the highway.
This is a simple item that I was able to pick out in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands pages of documentation. What else has been missed in your avalanche, landslide, geotechnical, erosion etc. assessments? We are in an awkward position of having to trust Enbridge and assume that there have been no errors on critical assessments.
We have established that trust needs to be earned. Unfortunately, your behavior to date, has not served you well. From what I have experienced and read, I cannot trust that your company will not cause an environmental disaster in our beautiful North Coast.
So if we can’t trust Enbridge, your application, and the Federal Environmental Review process then I suggest that this application is ours to decide on. It should not be the decision of the Joint Review Panel, Stephen Harper, or Jim Flaherty. Our communities, our risk, our decision, because at the end of the day, we bear the consequences of the resulting oil spill.
Mayor & Council must say "NO"
Comment by HB on 18th November 2011
No more neutrality, no more wait & see what the JRP decides - this town & the whole Northwest must stand up. How many more excellent articles such as this do we need.
Mountains of Paperwork is the Goal
Comment by Bill Vollrath on 17th November 2011
Thank you Manny for punching up the fact that the risks, which are significant, are hidden in thousands and thousands of pieces of paper which very few people will actually take the time to read. This is basically what I said in a comment to one councillor when I commented on a statement he happened to make about the council and the people of Kitimat needing to trust the joint review panel findings. When these big businesses and the government put out papers that review the reviews of the studies that were drawn up to study the studies, their actual goal is not to find facts but rather bury the facts.
Comment by Anna-Marie Carstens on 17th November 2011
Well said, Manny. If a spill happens in the Kitimat Valley for any reason, our town is doomed. I hope this project can be stopped, but I am not too hopeful. We do not really live in a democracy and people in small towns have very little leverage. We have to get people in the big cities on board to protest the pipeline.
If Enbridge is so sure of the safety measures built into their project, why don't they undertake to pay every Kitimat resident $1 million for relocation, loss of income and hardship in case of a spill, whether it is the result of an accident, human error or act of God? A spill will taint the town's reputation forever.
and the councilors at the debate said...
Comment by Thomas Campbell on 17th November 2011
Excellent letter Manny....
Unfortunately I expect little if any support from the majority of people running for council on the enbridge issue.
At the debate everyone was asked two questions at different times, the first (Question #2) was; Do you support Enbridge YES OR NO simple enough question. Of the 12 people running for council only 4 came right out and said they did not support Enbridge pipeline project, only one of those four was a sitting councilor. The second question (#8) asked those thatw ere running for council to raise their hands if they would fight against enbridge. This time the same three that said they didn't support Enbridge project raised their hand, and the fourth was now a completely different seated councilor.
As fot the Mayoral candidtaes, the two new candidates opposed the project, and the seated Mayor wouldn't commit.
I would urge you to read their responses to the questions here in the Kitimat daily and make an informed decision.
Comment by al on 17th November 2011
well put Manny, all Enbridge cares about is the cash, if they have a spill, its just pie in their face, they will forget about it and move on, you and I however, get to go down to the river and watch dead fish float by, and wonder where the eagles went, maybe we could invite these enbridge top guns to come down in 2 to 10 years after the spill and have bbq salmon with the locals.
to bad lynching is against the law
could 'nt of said it better myself
Comment by bigsteelyphil on 17th November 2011
Excellent right up Manny! I wish everyone would take the time you did to research this issue which is so broad it's almost impossible to get through it all.
Manny for Mayor
Comment by Declan on 16th November 2011
Very well said Manny. I look forward to hearing what you have to say in January.
What about our water Supply?
Comment by Gerry Hummel on 16th November 2011
Great letter Manny, I appreciate your research of the facts and that you bring these vital points to Enbridge’s attention. I just hope Enbridge gets it!
The US government has postponed a decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline because of it's threat to the Nebraska Aquifer groundwater water supply. I quote from the US environmental review "A major spill from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on the Platte River in Nebraska could spill 5.9 million gallons of toxic, corrosive tar sands oil and spread pollutants such as carcinogenic benzene in excess of federal health standards hundreds of miles downstream, contaminating drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people as far south as Kansas City, Mo. Even a small, undetected leak from an underground rupture of the pipeline in the Nebraska Sandhills could pollute almost 5 billion gallons of groundwater with benzene at concentrations exceeding safe drinking water levels – enough water to form a plume 15 miles long, posing serious health threats to anyone using the underlying Ogallala Aquifer for drinking water or agriculture. And a worst-case spill at the pipeline’s crossing of the Missouri or Yellowstone Rivers in Montana could spill well over 5 million gallons of tar sands oil, contaminating drinking and recreational water in North Dakota with harmful levels of benzene and other chemicals."End of quote .
The Kalamazoo river supplied drinking water to thousands of citizens and has been shut down for more than a year now because of high pollutant counts after the spill there, and now they have shut down the clean-up operations because of the impending winter! That will be going on 2 years now for some of these people without safe drinking water, I’ll bet the citizens of Michigan are real happy with that!
With Enbridge’s proposed pipeline crossing so many hundreds of vital rivers and streams in BC I believe we are even more at risk from a major spill or leak here because of the rough terrain and increased pressures they would require to pump oil through the proposed line! Much more so than the flatlands in the states and prarie provinces.
So I ask, with the Enbridge pipelines plans of carrying the same amounts (525,000 barrels per day) of dirty tarsands oil through the Kitimat valley, are not these same risks at play for the complete Kitimat watershed water supply and also other water supplies all along the proposed 1177 kilometer route? So why is our government now talking about expediting the review process so they can ram this pipeline down our throats! Why has Harper’s government not shut down the Enbridge proposed pipeline for the same reasons? Are Canadians citizens less worthy of concern than American citizens? Wake up Mr. Harper and cancel this proposed pipeline! We need more citizens to get on board with ending this project before it’s too late!
Comment by Linda Halyk on 16th November 2011
Hear Hear Manny, couldn't agree with you more. Very well said thank you.
I agree it should not be the decision of the JRP, PM or the Finance Minister or Enbridge. It is our decision and I believe it is a decision that needs to be made soon very very very soon. It is us that will be the most affected when a spill happens, we are the ones to lose our homes our jobs. Even the industry in this area should be against this, they risk losing there employees and businesses.