Two recent oil spills in Alberta have environmental risks of oil pipelines in the headlines, and now media have found documents showing that the Northern Gateway proposal was flagged for not including appropriate spill response plans.
The issue was brought up by officials at Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. The pipeline proposed by Enbridge crosses over the territory of several Aboriginal bands. Several of those communities have agreed to the pipeline in exchange for a 10 percent stake.
The Northern Gateway is meant to carry oil from the Alberta oilsands to the West Coast of British Columbia. It will cover over 1,200 km. The oil will then be exported, mostly to Asia.
With that long a pipeline, there are guaranteed to be issues.
Enbridge says they have addressed all the concerns raised by Aboriginal Affairs in 2010 and that they have always had an “aggressive emergency response.” No one at the Aboriginal and Northern Affairs could confirm that changes had been made to the plans for Postmedia.
Enbridge itself says the company meets or exceeds Canadian standards, but given the recent spill that wasn’t discovered until a competitor flew over the site, those standards don’t appear to be particularly high.
There are people across the country and especially in British Columbia fighting against the pipeline projects, not only because of the risk of spills but also because of the increased tanker traffic that may disrupt habitats along the route to Asia. Canadian Fisheries officials have raised concerns about the pipeline’s route across Alberta and BC, saying that Enbridge seems to be looking at the least expensive way to build rather than looking out for waterways.
The hearings about the pipeline being conducted through to April 2013 have been criticized by the Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, who accused ‘radical‘ groups of trying to hijack the proceedings. More than 4,000 people applied to present at the hearings. In a grand irony, he accused these groups of being ideologically driven.
Photo Credit: ~Jen~