Pipe dream could be a nightmare

Oilsands pipeline proposals are too risky to consider, writer says

At a recent Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Ian Anderson gave a presentation on Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, passing through the Fraser Valley.  Ian emphasized the “economic benefits” and that pipeline technology is the safest mode of transporting tar sands oil (otherwise known as bitumen).  Although he mentioned some spills, there have been an alarming and distressing number of pipeline spills over the last 10 years, leaving devastation in their wake.  The biggest spills are impossible to clean up, with oil industry only being able to clean up to 15 per cent of the mess, leaving the rest to poison ecosystems.  The most important lesson with this experience is that, despite “improved” engineering, spills keep happening.  So we know that spills, bursts and leaks are inevitable.  Ian Anderson stated clearly at the luncheon that, although his company would do everything possible to prevent spills, there are no guarantees.  This is very understandable as there is always the risk of human error and technology does wear down.   In addition, pipelines are subject to earthquakes and tremors, mud slides and landslides in BC’s rough terrain.  This does not even take into account the extreme risk for a disaster to happen on coastal waters, as bitumen would be loaded onto huge tankers in increasing numbers to be shipped to foreign markets out of Vancouver harbour.

The Harper government is telling the public that “economic benefits” of getting bitumen to Asian markets out weigh any collateral damage this may cause.  Not only will be there be a boon of short term jobs and a few long term jobs, but federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations governments will gain huge revenues by way of royalties and taxes.  This short-sited vision has been exposed by Robyn Allen, an experienced economist, as not being in the best interest of BC or Canada.  Given the inevitability of a disastrous spill on the coastal waters and/or land, there is no consideration given to other sectors of the economy – tourism, fishing, agriculture, or to irreparable damage to precious aquifers.  The plans violate aboriginal rights to proper consultation and consent as many First Nations are in fierce opposition to this project.

We have seen too many images of seals, birds, and fish suffering death in an oily mess in the waters and on land.  Most alarming is that bitumen is currently being pumped through the 59-year-old Kinder Morgan pipeline and will more than double if another pipeline is built along side of this one.  This is destined for Burnaby where highly toxic bitumen will be loaded onto huge tankers, increasing the inevitability of disastrous spills.  Yes there are some short-term economic benefits to the Kinder Morgan “pipe dream.”  On the other hand, the long-term collateral damage is a price too high for BC to pay.  This is not in the best interest of Canada, and we the people must take a stand to stop both Kinder Morgan and Enbridge plans.


Eddie Gardner

Skwah First Nation Member

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