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REPORTING · 8th January 2014
Walter McFarlane
Councillor Phil Germuth had a motion to bring before Council on Monday, January 6th.

“That the District of Kitimat require Enbridge to install a leak detection system capable of locating small volumes of leakage on all sections of pipeline where a leak could impact the Kitimat watershed or the District of Kitimat water intakes,” said Germuth.

“As we know, on December 19th, the Joint Review Panel, with a significant number of conditions, gave their approval to the Northern Gateway Enbridge Project. As elected officials, it is our duty on any potential project to assess concerns relating to the safety and potential impacts on our community,” said Germuth.

He stated the JRP acknowledged the leak detection system which is proposed could allow between 100,000 to 200,000 litres of product to escape without sounding an alarm. He was concerned that with the “yet to be defined” world class spill response, the Kitimat watershed could be damaged by this amount, particularly if it entered the drinking water.

He stated there is technology, such as an external sensing cable, which is used in the oil industry and can locate a leak and its location. He added Enbridge, along with TransCanada, are investigating leak detection including the one he mentioned.

“By supporting this motion, we are carrying out our duty to best protect our community’s water supply. We are not insisting on any particular company’s product or technology at this time, only that a system capable of detecting small leaks in a pipeline is implemented. Also, by supporting the motion at this time, we are giving the proponent plenty of time to incorporate our concerns and requirements into their final phase,” said Germuth.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated he was opposed to the motion. “Council has a policy of neutrality towards the Enbridge Project. From my perspective, that policy supported allowing the independent Joint Review Panel of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and National Energy Program to conclude their findings based on all the evidence presented to that body over several years. Our policy supported the neutral JRP Process. In December 2013, the JRP released its final report on the Northern Gateway. They concluded the overall risk was manageable, that the project is in Canada’s interest and placed 209 conditional on their project approval recommendation. On the whole, I am in support of the recommendation and related conditions of the JRP. Those conditions include elements related to leak detection. I do not want Council to attempt to replicate the JRP process,” said Feldhoff.

He told the Council he felt this was no rubber stamp, as there are people who believe that this process was destined to produce a yes all along. He stated there were some projects which had been declined by the JRP Process in the past.

“To my mind, opposition to the JRP Northern Gateway report at this stage is yet another case of NIMBY’ism. Not in my back yard. We should reflect on the fact that Kitimat likely would not be the community it is today if the NIMBY’s of the Neckako Watershed had their way. I find it a bit rich that now that the shoe is on the other foot, that some Kitimatians are eager to wrap themselves in the cloak of NIMBYism. I say enough already! The JRP has spoken and we need to move on,” said Feldhoff.

He suggested working with Enbridge to request the very best leak detection for the Kitimat watershed. “We are in the position to request, not require, as stated in the motion. Now that the JRP final report has been released, I am very much in favour of meeting with Enbridge to again express our concerns that the very best in leak detection be installed for areas of the proposed pipeline that have the potential to materially impact the Kitimat watershed, including our water intakes. That I can support,” said Feldhoff.

He stated the intent of the motion was not unreasonable, and the leak detection and additional valves which were promised could already address the concerns. He stated the people from Enbridge were not unreasonable and had already modified the project to meet concerns which were raised. He wanted to work with them to minimize risk. He added he supported Black’s Refinery proposal, which he expressed he thought reduced the shipping risks.

“Presently, our community is experiencing pains, particularly housing and social challenges associated with industrial construction. We need to seriously do all that we can to mitigate those challenges. But, we also need to project beyond the industrial construction period of the next few years. At one time, the Kitimat Aluminium Smelter employed close to 2500 Kitimatians, Eurocan 650 and Methanex a further 150. The primary industry no proposed does not replace the direct jobs lost over the years. Do the Math. Our community needs to continue to actively seek out long term sustainable family supporting jobs for the benefit of future generations,” said Feldhoff.

Councillor Mary Murphy said they received a report from Enbridge in June addressing the concerns which Kitimat has with leaks. She said they are doing research on new testing equipment and suggested they should come in front of Council so Council can learn what form of tests they are doing and address the concerns.

Germuth stated this motion goes along with what the JRP recommended, to implement complimentary leak detection systems. They recognized leak detection is evolving and they understands that Northern Gateway plans to investigate options while implementing technology with the greatest chance of success.

Councillor Rob Goffinet stated this does not call in the question the JRP or tips Council’s hand to be for or against the project. He reminded Council there are 209 conditions and conditions 201 and 202 which is for testing a leak detection system is a part of the JRP conditions.

“What we’re doing is saying, we see a possibility of external sensing cable detection system. To me, that could be a condition 201, 202 to upgrade, look at other options and rather than after it’s built, it hasn’t even been okayed, this is the time where, if we have a recommendation, put it in front of Enbridge and it’s been said by everyone around the table that we would welcome a dialogue, not only with the JRP if it’s possible (I don’t think so) or the Federal Government, or Enbridge, this motion actually allows it,” said Goffinet.

Germuth said he did not want to use an exact technology, just ensure the rivers would be protected by a system that could detect a leak, not something that leaks 200,000 litres without being sensed

Councillor Corinne Scott stated she was in favoured with the motion to require Enbridge to install a leak detection system. “I don’t think this has anything to do with whether the Council is neutral on being for or against the project. I think that because the JRP has finished their report and has recommended that it go ahead, that it behooves us to ensure that if it does get approval, that we get any of our concerns in front of the Federal Government right away,” said Scott.

She expressed this was motion was for additional leak detection to locate small volumes of leaks within the Kitimat watershed. They are trying to look at a specific area of this operation. Feldhoff stated again they should meet with Enbridge about the recommendation and he wanted to do this. He could not support the motion the way it was worded.

Councillor Edwin Empinado stated the source of Kitimat’s water was important to him, but wished to make an amendment. Instead of require, he wanted the motion to read that the District of Kitimat be involved with the discussion with Enbridge rather than imposing a regulation on them. Feldhoff seconded it. The amendment was called and carried, with Germuth, Goffinet and Scott opposed.

Germuth stated he will be voting against the main motion now. “I feel this shows no guts, it’s the only word I can think of at this time. We should be requiring safety procedures be put in for our water supply,” said Germuth.

Scott agreed as the amendment changed the intent of the motion. She stated this should have been a second motion as it has changed the motion entirely. “It’s changed the entire motion to where if we turn around and vote against it, it says we don’t want to meet with Enbridge. Of course we want to meet with Enbridge but the amended motion has changed the entire intent and it should have been a separate motion, it shouldn’t have been an amended motion, it’s changed it entirely,” said Scott.

“I see things quite a bit differently than some of my fellow Councillors. The amended motion does not change things entirely. The amended motion says that we will meet with Enbridge to discuss a leak detection system that can detect small volumes of leakage in all sectors of the pipeline where a leak in the pipeline would impact the Kitimat watershed or the Kitimat water intakes,” said Feldhoff.

He said it was a respectful motion consistent with the JRP process and one he could support.

Goffinet stated the word ‘require’ was where Council was divided. He said this was a requirement which was in line with the JRP report for complimentary leak detection systems. The reason to require it is because the pipeline could impact the community’s watershed. It is asking for a requirement to be put into place to upgrade the protection system as it pertains to the drinking water. Goffinet stated the proponent would neither shy away from discussing it or requiring it. He was going to vote against this motion.

“I put in this amendment because when you say require, the conversation ends up in the air. That’s why we need to be calm, sit down with them. We need our watershed. It’s very important to us and, is it I who is very… discussed at telling them, late and discussing all the specific ones, my expertise? It’s not,” said Empinado.

He said they should talk about the water, its source, the river and what is important to them. He just does not want to hedge out the conversation because there are there are things they can do locally which they cannot do provincially.

Germuth stated the word ‘required’ is not to end a conversation with Enbridge, but to start it. Enbridge is investigating the leak detection technology. All he is asking for is requiring something to protect the watershed and they are giving Enbridge plenty of time to incorporate these concerns into their final plans.

The motion was called and carried, with Germuth, Goffinet and Scott opposed.
Disappointed with Council
Comment by Cliff Madsen on 11th January 2014
Council, you asked us to be patient and wait for the JRP to conclude. You asked for this so that you could make an informed decision and take a position after letting the process run it`s course. Now that it has you continue to do what ever is needed to avoid dealing with this important issue. How can you sit back and continue to remain neutral as the host community with argueably the most to win and/or lose? I always believed you should`ve been active throughout the process and I`m disappointed that you are still politicing when the interests of our community need to be prioritized. Do any of you disagree with Germuth that the best possible leak detection is in our community`s best interests? If not then why do you continue to find ways to hide from bringing our issues to the table? The best you could do was water Germuth`s motion down so that you didn`t hurt Enbridge`s feelings. Wow!
How about doing your job and scrutinizing the JRP report(s) identifying the issues that haven`t been resolved to our satisfaction and going after them to address them. The leverage you have is today when the corporation and government will do whatever possible to get their way. If you think you can change things later then you haven`t learned from what Kitimat went through dealing with Alcan, power sales and the courts.
You asked us to respect the legal process and by comparison I`m asking you to respect the duties that come with your position as our representatives.
Protect our water supply
Comment by Kitimat River Steward on 11th January 2014
The Joint Review Panel reviewed Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project to consider two questions. The environmental issue as well as “Is it in the best interests of Canadians”.

Our Council should also be considering two questions. Again the environmental issue as well “Is it in the best interests of Kitimatians”.

Waiting for the JRP to release it’s report and to just piggy back on their recommendations is a cop out. I long for the days when our elected officials represent the people who elected them.

I am shocked at the motion that only requests Enbridge (instead of requiring) to supply a leak detection system capable of locating small volumes of leakage on all sections of pipeline where a leak could impact the Kitimat watershed or the District of Kitimat water intakes.

Are we afraid to offend Enbridge by demanding that our water supply be adequately protected?

I understand why some residents want to see this pipeline. It is inexcusable no matter what side of the issue you support, not to “require” Enbridge to take the necessary steps to protect our water. Case closed!

Thank you for your efforts Phil, Rob and Corrine.
Comment by PinnWheel on 9th January 2014
"Council has a policy of neutrality towards the Enbridge Project."
Does this mean the same as:
"Burry your head in the sand"
still sleeping
Comment by rick on 8th January 2014
all in the same bed.$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. nothin will change till these councilors our replaced by people who have the best interest of the comunity....... greed,controls this little town. so much for prosparity,for all.