Strategies for stopping Gateway #1: The Hecate Strait

As Gerald Butts explained in The Globe and Mail, one of the biggest environmental risks associated with the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is the stream of supertankers that would carry oil from Kitimat out to the Pacific: “At Kitimat, toxic diluted bitumen would be loaded onto supersized tankers. Each year, more than 200 would travel through narrow fjords and into some of the world’s most treacherous seas”.

These tankers would flow through the treacherous Hecate Strait – a dangerous maritime environment located far away from equipment that would be required in the event of a major spill. It’s also an area of considerable natural beauty and ecological importance.

It seems like a convincing case to be made that building the Northern Gateway pipeline creates an unacceptable marine oil spill risk – and that is just one of a great many arguments against the project.

6 thoughts on “Strategies for stopping Gateway #1: The Hecate Strait

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    I oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline for a number of reasons, beginning with the fact that the project requires over-turning the current moratorium on oil tanker traffic on the British Columbia coastline. The federal-provincial oil tanker moratorium has been in place for decades. As former Industry Canada deputy minister Harry Swain pointed out in today’s Globe and Mail, moving oil tankers through 300 km of perilous navigation in highly energetic tidal conditions is a bad choice. In December 2010, the government’s own Commissioner for the Environment, within the Office of the Auditor General, reported that Canada lacked the tools to respond to an oil spill. These are legitimate concerns.

  2. Pingback: Demonstrating British Columbia’s beauty

  3. .

    He recounted his trip last month in testimony before the National Energy Board, which was marked by cheers from pipeline opponents and objections from lawyers for Enbridge, the pipeline company.

    Cullen said he was struck by “the incredible sharpness of the turns that are required” of any vessel, let alone a supertanker.

    “Can we sail that narrow channel 15,000 times through all kinds of weather, all kinds of circumstances, both human and environmental, with never having made a mistake once? Because we can’t make a mistake once,” he said.

    Surrounded by true believers, he is more strident. “We will defend our home to our dying breath,” he tells the crowd in the Ottawa pub. “This will not happen.”

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    Moreover, it’s the marine side that most needs attention, and here the action lies principally with the federal government. Enbridge has no control over the oil once it leaves the dock in the holds of a merchant tanker. It is up to Transport Canada, the Coast Guard, and the Pilotage Authority to make sure these behemoths get safely out to sea. A pilot who has done more than 400 transits of the Douglas Channel told me it’s a seriously scary piece of water for a ship whose manoeuvrability is as limited as that of a large, loaded tanker.

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