REPORTING · 21st April 2012
Mayor Joanne Monaghan brought out her stopwatch again at the Monday, April 14th meeting of Kitimat City Council. Each of the presenters had 10 minutes to present to Council.
On the agenda were two presenters concerning the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Cheryl Brown, a local resident representing Douglas Channel Watch and Michele Perret and Drum Cavers, from Northern Gateway.
Brown explained she was going to speak to the TERMPOL study in relation to Transport Canada’s review of it. She explained it was a difficult topic. TERMPOL is a system the proponent can participate in. It focus’s on the marine transport. It is a voluntary practice meaning this is not binding, the proponent can adopt one or more of the recommendations and the study is done by the proponent.
“Enbridge did their TERMPOL reports, submitted it to Transport Canada and Transport Canada then reviewed it. Transport Canada said Enbridge is in full compliance with National and International Regulatory Frameworks,” said Brown.
She explained this means there are double hulls, segregated ballast tanks, certified crew, pilots, certified response organization who will respond to spills and there is a ship board oil pollution energy plan. It also means an electronic display / information system has to be on board the ship. These have to be enforced by 2015.
“The thing about all these pieces are, they are things that any ship anywhere in the world is required to do by international law. This is the law that they are required to do,” said Brown.
However, then Brown explained to Council that Enbridge is putting into place 17 voluntary measures to reduce the likelihood of a spill and the consequences. They include the radar to monitor traffic, the monitoring of visibility and wind conditions in the channel and the tugs, which are to escort the tankers, be available for rescue and be equipped for spill response. The vetting of tankers is also on the list.
“The thing we need to be aware of is that none of these are mandatory nor is Enbridge legally bound to them. For Transport Canada, in my opinion, it wants to distance itself as far as possible away from these voluntary measures. In Transport Canada’s Opinion, the largest VLCCs can navigate the entire route unassisted by tugs, including the S Turn and also that the current navigational aids are adequate,” said Brown.
She stated Transport Canada is concerned about having to monitor and inspect ships Ballast. The ships come into Kitimat with Ballast and there is no place to treat ballast in Kitimat so tankers have to hold onto their ballast.
Brown added Transport Canada also has to inspect vessels. They have an additional 250 vessels to inspect as a part of their monitoring program. However, their funding is being decrease, coast guard services are being down graded and the auditor general has stated Transport Canada and the Coast Guard can not do their job and neither is prepared for a spill.
“The situation here is, the government can not do what they are supposed to do, they do not want to do anymore, nor do they want to legislate any matters that would make the situation as safe as possible,” said Brown.
She stated shippers and corporations are profit driven and they could streamline whatever they need to do for profit. There are also other petrochemical projects doing TERMPOL’s. There is no coordination between these TERMPOL processes and the Douglas Channel could be looking at 900 transits per year of vessels and the District of Kitimat has not said anything in the Joint Review Panel process about this.
Brown stated the Douglas Channel Watch are taking an active role critiquing the Enbridge Gateway Proposal through the Joint Review Panel process. “As citizens, we expect governments to take a responsible role in protecting our environment in a sustainable way. Our governments are not doing this, Federal, Provincial or Municipal. All levels are waiting for results of the JRP except the Federal which has made up their mind,” said Brown.
“I have to say inaction makes you impotent, it makes you impotent to have any impact on this process and to have the ability to protect the sustainability of the environment and economy. Your neutrality does not mean inaction and as municipal government, you are only reactive, you are not proactive in this process,” said Brown.
She said she was dismayed by all this as a citizen.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff responded.
“As a Councillor, I’m a little dismayed actually. The tone sometimes. You seem to belittle the JRP Process and indicating that Enbridge is not going to live up to it’s commitments. I have a strong suspicion that the JRP will put in writing that in the event that they approve that they will address the concerns you make. I draw a completely different sense of comfort from a process such as TERMPOL then you do. My neutrality means that I’m open to getting the input from groups. If I can’t trust the TERMPOL and only rely on presentations such as yours, we’re short changing ourselves. We need to rely on the TERMPOL, we need to rely on the JRP, we question Enbridge, we do a lot of things but to say that we’re doing nothing, I take issue with that,” said Feldhoff.
Brown responded: “As Citizens, I think we need to take a very active role within this process.”
She explained the point of the presentation was how Transport Canada looked at the TERMPOL and all of these extra measures which Enbridge is putting into the project and told them they did not need to do any of the extra measures. She stated the proponent is putting Kitimat in jeopardy as they have no grounds for sustainability of Canada’s environment or economy.
One of the lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez is statutory regulations have to be put into place. If they want mandatory escort tugs, the statute and regulation has to be in place for them. She said the way it is happening now, this will not be the case.
Feldhoff apologized for debating the public. He said they were listening but ‘12-15 presentations in a row’ from an opponent of the process slanting the information.
Councillor Rob Goffinet stated he was listening to the concerns and made sure Brown was presenting at the Joint Review Panel.
Councillor Mary Murphy stated she was at the same presentation and she did not get the same viewpoint. She stated Brown was being biased in her thoughts. Murphy stated she was trying to remain neutral and not be judgemental about what is coming forward. She is asking questions to get the information. Brown reminded Murphy Transport Canada was not at the meeting Murphy attended, it was the Chamber of Shipping and the Pilots.
Councillor Edwin Empinado wanted a copy of the presentation.
There were no further questions so Perret and Cavers got up to present. Perret immediately clarified the words the Council heard in the previous presentation, notably voluntary and lack of legislation.
“The commitments that we have made in respect to tug escorts, with respect to additional radar in the Douglas Channel, those have all been recorded on the public record as commitments to the certificate to public convenience and necessity that we have applied for. If we renege, that means we are reneging on our commitment and that can affect our ability to operate this pipeline meaning our certificate,” said Perret.
She stated if they did not live up to their commitments, it would not be there project. Perret introduced Cavers as a Geotechnical Engineer who has worked on the Northern Gateway Project for many years. He was going to present the Geotechnical issues he has studied.
“I want to talk about seismicity, avalanches, debris flows, alluvial fans, rock fall, glacial marine sediments and flow slides in those sediments, the process in terms of the further investigations and detailed design that we will be doing and a little bit about monitoring,” said Cavers.
He explained they have spent a lot of time studying the pipeline route and revising route based on their findings. They have a lot of tools which they did not have 20 years ago such as Lidar,
Lidar allows them to look at the ground on a satellite view using impulses of light. They can see the deep seated slides under the vegetation. They use Arial photography which is hooked together with the Lidar. Finally, they get community comments and public input. He asked people to come forward with their concerns and comments on the route they have observed because it is important to them.
Cavers stated the geotechnical report, a report on Glacial Marine Clay, a seismic report, acid rock drainage reports, several preliminary reports on trench less crossing and avalanche reports for the route is on the National Energy Board Website and he invited people to take a look at it.
He stated they will be to continue to do research and the geotechnical research does not stop through the project because they want to keep the pipeline safe in the long term.
“Wherever possible, the principal of the Geo-hazards work is to avoid whatever we can. We try to avoid all the major slides,” said Cavers. “We’ve ruled out other areas where there were large hazards.”
He stated the seismicity along the route is lower then the seismicity of Vancouver. Kitimat has the highest and it goes down as one travels east. Haida Gwuii has the most seismicity of the area putting the project in a relatively low seismic area. He added the welded steel pipelines are resistant to seismic motions.
Carvers explained earthquakes in the area have been studied, compared and similar events are included in the parameters for the project. There are no fault breaks known anywhere near here but they are looking. He also told Council there is a pipeline built on a fault line in Alaska and it was designed so the ground could move under the pipeline without damaging it.
Alluvial Fans, where streams move down hill provide a challenge in that if they do not plan properly, the pipeline will be exposed by erosion. They keep the pipeline deep and put protection on it. The goal is to put the pipeline in an area where it will not be affected by the fan.
Debris Flows are caused by precipitation. A lot of water moves down the mountain picking up debris left in the creek channel and takes it down the hill. He showed an example where a pipeline had been in a debris flow yet remained safe because it was designed to survive this event.
Carvers explained most of the crossings are going to be down where there is little erosion and they will consider what cover they need for the debris flows and emulation events. He had not heard of a single failure on an alluvial fan in BC.
He explained the debris fields in the Holt creek area were in deeply sized canyons. The solution they will use is to go right under the steam and re-establish the channel over top using concrete if necessary. The design will be rough to mimic the bottom of the stream.
“Each one of these streams gets it’s own individual design. We have a lot of tools in our toolbox but the tool we apply to each stream is applied on an individual basis. Similarly with avalanche paths. They wipe out forestry roads, we know where the avalanches are,” said Carvers.
They will be putting additional protection over the Holt Tunnel. They are not concerned with avalanches damaging the path but are concerned with it diverting drainage.
Carvers said they build the pipeline deep enough, put protection on it so falling rocks the size of a house on the pipeline do not damage with it. He added they avoid areas with lots of falling rocks, even if it will make the pipeline shorter.
“Again, following the principal, whenever we can, we avoid the whole issue, avoid the whole hazard,” said Cavers.
On the topic of rock fall, they plan scaling, meshing and bolting to improve safety to workers and safety to the pipeline.
Cavers explained they are avoiding clay and quick clay where they can. They are doing additional investigations if there is anything to consider.
The two large diameter tunnels have been designed to avoid crossing the alpine and improve the safety during the installation and avoid the geo-hazards.
“In conclusion, we’ve done a lot of work on the geo-hazards over the last ten years or so. We haven’t stopped. We are still working on them, we are still working on the pipeline geotechnical aspects. This has touched on some very limited areas. We have done a lot of effort in making a safe design, at looking at ways at mitigating the issues and I feel very confident that we can build this pipeline and maintain it’s safety over the operating operational life in respect to geotechnical hazards,” said Cavers.
Councillor Phil Germuth asked if Cavers had ever been to the Nimbus Mountain area. Cavers said yes. Germuth asked if there was evidence of landslides. Cavers replied there was evidence along the corridor and gave some specific examples. The pipeline will be away from those slides.
Councillor Rob Goffinet clarified the seismicity increases as the pipeline travels west. He asked why the Alaska Pipeline was above the ground. Cavers replied it was a specific feature of the construction, notably because of the fault line. He did not believe the situation was present on the coast. However, they are going to do a lot of mapping and checking as they go.
Goffinet asked if the Northern Gateway Pipeline would be above or below ground. Cavers replied it would be almost all buried.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know what the one exception to avoiding areas with slides was. Cavers stated it was the Little Smokey River in Alberta. They will use trench less methods to go underneath the slide.
Councillor Mary Murphy commented there were seismologists from the university of Oregon staying at her house doing a study of the area. She wanted to know if Enbridge was using the information. Cavers stated he was uncertain and would look for it.
Councillor Edwin Empinado asked if they had looked into the comments from Douglas Channel Watch in regards to Nimbus Mountain. Carvers replied there has been a lot of comment on the slides on Nimbus Mountain.
Germuth cited the video on the Enbridge website and asked if they could guarantee there would not be an environmental disaster along the route. “There is no absolute guarantee for anything in life. What we are doing is making the risk and the probability or the chance of that very, very low,” replied Cavers.
Goffinet stated the project would attack probability with efforts to mitigate the risk. “The first thing we do is avoid everything we can. Now the probability for all those things is 0. Then we mitigate what’s left,” said Cavers.
Goffinet wanted to know about the tunnels going through the mountain was an extreme avoidance of a risk. He wanted to know if this was normal. Cavers said there were a few pipelines in the world going through similar. It was not something they would do unless they had to. He added it was also for the safety of people constructing the pipeline and for the maintenance of the pipeline.
Empinado asked for a copy of the presentation.
Now it was Germuth’s chance to respond. He mentioned the video from the Enbridge Website again where there is a statement from Cavers stating they have to balance the risks to the benefits to society.
“Can you see how your comments can easily be interpreted that: ‘As long as there is a benefit to society and Enbridge’s profit margins of course, that Enbridge is wiling to potentially jeopardize our environmental quality of life?”
Speaking for himself personally, Cavers stated: “I love hiking, I love ocean kayaking, sailing. I moved back to Vancouver from Calgary because the Glenmore River wasn’t big enough to float a decent sized sailboat on. I loved the outdoors, I loved the mountains, I loved skiing in the mountains. I love everything about our West Coast environment. I would not personally be involved in the project if I wasn’t convinced we could do it safely.”
Germuth thanked him for coming out to answer the questions but had a statement regarding his statement in the video.
“In that video, you stated that in your opinion, the prospect of the nightmare scenario are very small. I just like to add the engineers, geologists, seismologists involved in the Fukushima nuclear facility also thought the prospects of a nightmare scenario were very small but it happened Mr. Cavers,” said Germuth.
“And I recognize that,” said Cavers. “And I don’t want to be the guy who’s watch that happens on. That’s all I can say.”
Brown’s time at the podium, from start to finish clocked in at 16 minutes and 33 seconds. However, from the start of her presentation to the end of her presentation was 9 minutes and 23 seconds, with the rest of the time being used to set up the power point, correct the Mayor on the title of the presentation and answer questions.
Cavers time at the podium was 26 minutes and 35 seconds. This includes the statement from &, as well as the questions from Council and Cavers introduction. His presentation was 13 minutes and 5 seconds.
Monaghan clocked Brown’s presentation in at 18 minutes including questions from Council. She clocked Cavers presentation in at 16 minutes prior to the questions asked by Council. Clearly, her watch was broken.
Comment by LINDA HALYK on 25th April 2012
Someone who sees things as they are. The Mayor plays by her own rules, she thinks she is above the law.
I wonder if she is following her court orders no bird feeders.
broken time piece
Comment by Marcus Kendar on 23rd April 2012
I honestly think that after reading this article multiple times that yes somebodies time piece was more in likely not broken but was being biasedly used to benefit someone by someone who expects to receive or has received a form of compensation.
Is this the return of similar politics of a certain regime that brought the entire world into war with exception of terrible situations like Auschwitz?
I'm not just talking about the local municipal gov't but the prov. and federal gov't as well and if anybody has a problem with that all I have to say is I voted therefore i have the right to complain as well as the freedom and right of expression!