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Murray Minchin from Douglas Channel Watch stepped forward at the Council Meeting on Monday, March 5th with a slide presentation on Nimbus Mountain. It took him a few minutes to set up so Council moved onto other business until he was ready.
“I’ll be speaking tonight about the Numbus Mountain Area which includes Holt Creek and Hunter Creek,” said Minchin. “Enbridge admits they haven’t had a forestry technician visit this slope. A forestry technician would be able to determine if the slope has periodically massive avalanches or rock fall events.”
He explained Enbridge had a pipeline leak in 2001 near Hardasy Alberta and it took them 14 hours to find the leak. He asked Council to keep this in mind for the rest of his presentation as 2,000,000 litres of oil could spill into the Kitimat River. He also reminded them the contractors can find and contain the spill in four hours. During a flood, the spill could reach the estuary in four hours.
The slideshow began with a photo of Nimbus Mountain. At the bottom of the slope are young, small closely packed trees which follow the avalanche line. Higher up the slope are tall, fully mature spaced trees.
In the next slide, Minchin showed the forest floor of the patch of forest with the younger trees. The floor was lumpy from fallen rocks. There are no mature trees or fallen logs. He stated this is evidence the slope is swept clean by avalanches.
Minchin explained on the lower slopes, there are large boulders. There are many trees with scars on their uphill trunks. There are middle aged trees which have had their tops ripped off.
He showed photos of the area above the tunnel exit, where there are no mature trees and signs slides happen regularly.
Why is this a concern? “Remember again, that there is an aerial crossing which means the pipelines, two of them, will be fully exposed and suspended in the air above holt creek, 200 metres directly below this location,” said Minchin.
Avalanche alder grows above where the pipeline leaves the mountain. He told Council the lack of fully mature trees, suggesting avalanches wipe out the forest below. One of the bluffs had a shattered, medium sized hemlocks.
They can find out when the last avalanche occurred, but they could not find out when the next one would occur. The mountains in the Holt Creek Valley rise 4700 above the pipelines path.
He pointed out: Pacific Trails Pipeline has first dibs on the safest route through the valley. They are not sharing this information with Enbridge. He showed Council where known avalanche sites cross the pipeline’s path.
Minchin stated Enbridge’s avalanche Consultant warned them the avalanches could damn the creek, and create a flash flood. The pipelines will only be buried a couple of metres under the creek bed. Minchin reminded Council of the Yellowstone Creek Spill was from a twelve year old pipeline buried s few feet under a creek bed.
Minchin also told Council how in the 80s, Hunter Creek flooded and wiped out the logging road for 500 metres. The pipeline is scheduled to follow the logging road and, in this scenario, would have been left ‘swinging in the wind for half a kilometre.’
He showed them the small creek which carried oil into the Kalamazoo River and told them the clean up in Kalamazoo has been shut down because winter conditions make the oil too sticky to clean up. He asked Council how long they will close the Kitimat River down for. He told them Enbridge has stated the Kitimat River would be closed for fishing for 4 years if this happens. He asked where Kitimat would get water?
His final slide showed, from Enbridge’s proposal where they show the estimated damage from a spill at Hunter Creek. The damage is estimated to be the whole of the Kitimat River. Finally, he explained if the spill gets into the estuary, the technique will be to burn the estuary.
He requested Council to organize another public forum with three participants. One representing the Haisla, one from Enbridge and one from an environmental group. He expressed the Mayor of Dawson Creek to be Irrelevant.
“There have been many concerning issues that have come to light since the last forum and the people of Kitimat deserve to have as much information as possible for deciding on the project because it has the capability to pollute our rivers or the North Coast of BC for many generations,” said Minchin.
Councillor Phil Germuth said any threat to the Drinking Water has to be looked at seriously. He asked if anyone had looked at a different route for the pipeline. Minchin stated Enbridge is considering an alternate route to Prince Rupert and disregarding Kitimat.
Councillor Mary Murphy thanked him for educating, allowing, discussing, informing and communicating respectfully to Council. She hoped they could offer solutions.
Councillor Rob Goffinet asked if Minchin was going to present the argument at the JRP. Minchin replied it has already been submitted to the JRP. The next hearings are oral statements from the public. He will be speaking to this and other issues and it can be found on their website.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff inquired about deadlines for comments to the JRP. Later in the meeting, Feldhoff gave notice of motion for hosting another public forum.