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REPORTING · 3rd April 2014
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Council saw a presentation from Enbridge at their special meeting on Monday, March 31st. John Carruthers and Donny Van Dyk got up to present on the 209 conditions. Carruthers expressed the Joint Review Panel was an extensive process. This followed a presentation by Cheryl Brown.

“Many of the questions which [Brown] raised were thoroughly discussed during that process because there were very important questions which people wanted answers to. The big one is could there be a spill and what is the impact and people need to understand that we were doing all we could to get the chance of that as low as practical and then if there was such an incident, respond effectively,” said Carruthers.

He expressed the JRP made their conclusions after the process, reading the testimony and reading the oral comments. He explained the JRP concluded Northern Gateway has provided information which met or exceeded the regulatory requirements for a thoroughly review as to if they could construct the project in a manner which is safe to both people and environment.

The JRP also stated that in the case of a spill, there would be adverse effects but they also concluded it would not be permanent. They also concluded that Northern Gateway’s mitigation methods were beyond what is required for a pipeline.

“It was mentioned that, in terms of cumulative effects, there would be certain populations of woodland caribou and grizzly bears already experiencing habitat disturbance without the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project. The panel has used a precautionary approach in deriving its views,” said Carruthers. “They looked at: ‘that could be adverse,’ but they recommended the project proceed, balancing the benefits for Canadians.”

Going back into Brown’s issues with the pipeline, Carruthers stated the 209 conditions address all aspects of the project, the risks associated with the Bitumen pipeline, the condensate pipeline, the terminal and all associated activities.

He said the commitments made by Northern Gateway would be regulatory requirements which are attached to the Certificates. These conditions also relate to the commitments to marine navigational safety and the types of Tankers which would be coming into Kitimat, even though the certificates do not relate to the water transport.

“The national energy board would monitor and enforce compliance through the lifespan of the project through audits, inspections and other enforcement tools,” said Carruthers. “The Marine conditions are enforceable by the National Energy Board and there would be continued compliance and enforcement by the board prior to approval but through the life of the project.”

Councillor Phil Germuth expressed the biggest concern was having product get into the environment. He said the JRP had only two conditions regarding leak detection, which refers to a SCADA system with a leak detection capability from 1.5% to 3%, and a pipeline could leak 100 to 2000 of product without setting off any alarms and would continue until detected through a different source.

The other form of leak detection has a similar range. He asked if they would be satisfying the conditions by putting in a leak detection system that could leak that much without setting off alarms. “There is nothing in those recommendations which actually say you have to put any leak detection that can go down to a certain amount. It only talks about you studying other systems, which is all great, but you can come back with a report that says: ‘they are too expensive or don’t work the way we want it’ so you can leave those two system in there and be satisfying those conditions,” said Germuth.

Carruthers replied the key was to design to avoid the hazards and do what you can do to prevent a spill. They have committed $500 million to prevent accidents. Then there are the leak detection systems which detect drops in pressure. Finally, they are looking at new technologies which can find smaller amounts of oil.

The first thing they will do is an inline inspection which will determine if anything has moved or if the steel is less thick then it was before. Then, they put redundant systems in place. While they do not know what they are going to use, they will make sure they can measure if there is a spill at all.

Germuth was concerned they did not answer the direct question, but stated the answer is technically yes, because they could just put in the two systems and satisfy the requirements.

Councillor Mary Murphy clarified how the sensors check for inconsistencies in the pressures to determine if the system is working the way it is supposed to. Alarms go off automatically if there is something out of balance.

Councillor Rob Goffinet pointed out a momentary failure in the system which they picked up but could not react to has led to 1.2 – 1.3 billion dollars of clean up in a small Northern Michigan river. Carruthers told him the panel went through it and ensured the financial resources were in place for the polluter pays model. The largest cost in Canada for a spill was tens of millions. They stated they have the financial capabilities to cover 1 billion. The money is just there to give people confidence.

Germuth clarified the leak detection one more time. Carruthers stated they will be looking for a leak detection system to compliment the SCADA system. There were no further questions so the delegation sat down and the meeting continued.