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REPORTING · 28th June 2012
Walter McFarlane
There were a lot of really good presentations and I tried to write on the highlights from the JRP on Monday June 25th. Watch the full presentations on Kitimat Daily Videos.

The Joint Review Panel returned to Kitamaat Village to hear the oral statements from the communities of Kitamaat, Kitimat and Terrace. The panel took statements from around 16 people.

Speakers focused on a number of topics which ranged from safety, the environment, the economy and the beauty of the northern lands. Many people questioned whether or not the Enbridge Northern Gateway could be done safely regardless of the promised safeguards.

“Industry can continue to make improvements and make things more and more idiot-proof. History has shown that better idiots will come along,” said Manny Arruda, an emergency responder who works in search and rescue.

He pointed out when the Kitimat river floods, it will be impossible to boom and unsafe for responders. He also pointed out Enbridge has not prepared for a scenario where the oil mixes with rough water into mix referred to as Chocolate Mousse

Lani Gibson listed her major concerns about the pipeline project, the impact multiple vessels in the Douglas Channel will have on Marine Mammals, a concern about what would happen if the pipeline would be abandoned after construction and the economic viability of the project.

She then went off topic for the scope of the hearings, stating oil is a finite resource and we have an ethical obligation to conserve it.

“We’re not doing that right now. As far as I can tell, there’s no overall plan
for the development of the tar sands other than to get as much of it out of the ground
as fast as possible so that everyone with a stake in it can get as rich as quickly as
possible,” said Gibson.

Terry Brown, a professional Engineer shared stories of boating trips. He explained no matter how hard they tried to make things perfect: “s*** happens.” He stated a spill would take opportunities of recreation and food would be gone.

Malcolm Graham, a guide from Terrace expressed the river is a world class resource, the value of the river could not be over-emphasised. He stated there will always be Human Error and there will be long term prosperity in the local resources without the pipeline.

Kelly Marsh had crunched the numbers provided by Enbridge and provided the percent chance of spills happening. He came up with a figure that over 50 years the odds of medium sized spill, which is between 30,000 and 1,000,000 litres, at 29.7%.

Nancy Nyce questioned the effect the pipeline will have of the culture of the Haisla Nation. The resources which the Haisla take from the sea is the nations last connection to their Culture and there are many Haisla youth who have not formed a connection with the land yet.

She expressed she almost decided not to come to present because it is a waste of time when there is food to prepare for the winter and the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has already made up his mind.

”When Hitler started to exterminate the Jews, all of the people that participated in taking them to the extermination camps didn’t think they were doing anything wrong, either. Somebody has to speak up and somebody has to stop the farce that is happening with this pipeline,” said Nyce

Kathy Ouwehand wished to talk about otters, but was one of the first people to point out Canada is sending far to many resources to China and China does not have good standards.

”If Harper ran his home the way he runs Canada, he would be bankrupt in no time. Giving away the necessities to run your home would be insane, yet he doesn’t hesitate to give Canada’s resources away. Our bitumen and oil is some of the cheapest in the world. China must be laughing how idiotic Canada is. No sane person would run a country like this,” said Ouwehand

She expressed concern for the marine mammals and how they would be affected by the tanker traffic. She stated the tanker noise might scare them off and large vessels could injure or kill whales.

Murray Minchin shared his experience about a unnamed friend of his stopped being his friend because Minchin was learning about the cons of the project. Minchin had attributed this to investments his unnamed friend had made in the project.

“Greed allows a money-hungry minority to disregard the welfare of the majority and to disregard the welfare of the environment in order to maximize, to the greatest extent possible, the size of their bank accounts. That’s who’s driving this project; that’s who will profit from it. They do not care one bit about what is in the best interests of ordinary Canadians, either today or generations into the future,” said Minchin.

Minchin pointed out the Joint Review Panel Process could simply be keeping the opposing forces busy long enough for them to be stripped of their power. He suggested they resign if Bill C38 passes through the Senate.

”By resigning, you would be sending a crystal clear message to the present and future federal governments that this Panel and future Joint Review Panel Members must retain the ability to turn down proposals for there to be any shred of legitimacy to environmental reviews in Canada,” said Minchin.

Margaret Ouwehand concluded her statement by parodying the Northern Gateway Comercial: “The Northern Gateway pipeline, it’s a path to profits for shareholders; a path to thousands of jobs for foreign workers; a path to thriving communities in foreign countries and the demise of our indigenous cultures; a path to safety standards that have failed and to great environmental impacts; a path that will increase the export of a finit e resource and strengthen China’s economy.”

Erica Prett expressed she was terrified by the pipeline which will be barrelling through the community and the ships which would be coming up the channel. She is here to say she did try when all of this went down. She expressed she did not have faith in the process because what she sees and here’s in the media is contrary to the panel process. The oil is not ours to give away because it belongs to the children of tomorrow.

Gordon Ouwehand reflected on the Kalamazoo incident and stated the Kitimat river, which is faster then the Kalamazoo and has worse cell service. “Enbridge has stated Kitimat could be without water for up to four years in the event of a spill. That was before the Kalamazoo incident, where they found it harder to deal with dilbit than conventional oil. So it begs the question: how long will we really be without water and how long before the fish return, if ever?”

Merv Ritchie expressed there has been a lot of damage done to the First Nations Culture. From this damage, titles have been passed to people who are not elegable to use them, but are mearly holding them for the time being. Some people have introduced themselves with these titles on the record. He questioned how they could be accepting testimony from people swearing themselves as chiefs but are not.

The final presenter, Kelly Ruff, ended her presentation with a challenge for Kitimat Mayor and Council: “I implore you, Madam Mayor and Council, to grow a pair and make a decision now on whether you support this project or not. Sitting on that fence can't be very comfortable. And quite frankly, you all need to start doing what we voted you in for, to put this community before your own personal agendas.”