Stopping the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline
About the Project
UPDATE: The Enbridge Northern Gateway project was cancelled in November, 2016.
The Enbridge proposal included two parallel 1,150-kilometre pipelines from the tar sands in northern Alberta to Kitimat.
One pipeline would carry between 400,000 to 1,000,000 barrels a day of crude oil from the tar sands to the BC coast, while the second pipeline would carry 150,000 barrels a day of condensate, a chemical and petroleum mixture used to dilute tar sands crude oil extracted so that it can travel by pipeline.
Tankers would be necessary to transport the pipeline’s contents of oil and condensate to and from the United States, China, India and other markets.
Approval of the Enbridge project would require creating a loophole in or lifting of a 34-year-old federal moratorium on crude oil tanker traffic in British Columbia’s fragile inside waters. To transport both oil and condensate, as many as 10 tankers per week, or 320 tankers per year, would travel 100 kilometres through BC’s inside passage and coastal waters and another 140 kilometres up a fjord to Kitimat.
What are the risks?
The north coast waters present an extremely risky environment for activities such as coastal oil and gas
extraction and tanker traffic. The threats from tanker traffic include air pollution, ballast discharge, and terminal accidents during loading and discharge.
The most significant environmental concern, however, is the risk of oil spills from tanker accidents.
The north coast is an extremely ecologically rich area. It includes numerous salmon and Gray whale migratory routes, at least 650 spawning rivers, the Pacific Flyway, and the feeding habitat of Humpback whales and Orca.
The commercial fishery in BC employs approximately 16,000 people. Sport fishing, fish processing and commercial fishing generate close to $1.7 billion combined each year. In addition, the north coast crab fishery supports 41 commercial crab vessels that fish Dungeness crab in Hecate Strait; from this fishery alone $20 million worth of crab is produced, and it employs 145 people on vessels and 250 shoreworkers.
An oil spill along the BC north central coast could kill thousands of marine animals and destroy habitats as well as drastically affect the fishing and tourist industries.
How will it impact salmon?
The Enbridge pipeline would require over 1,000 stream and river crossings. Spills and leaks can be a major source of contamination in rivers and streams, exposing these sensitive aquatic ecosystems to oil and other toxic substances.
Pipeline construction and operation can also impact salmon and other fish by releasing sediment into streams and rivers. Increased sedimentation harms fish survival and damages valuable spawning beds.
The Enbridge pipeline would affect the traditional territories and rights of at least 31 inland and 10 coastal
First Nations. A recent study concluded the pipeline would have a devastating impact on hunting, fishing, trapping, berry picking, spiritual activities, traditional village sites, recreational activities, and travel routes, with few if any corresponding benefits to First Nations communities.
The Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed the Crown has an ongoing duty to consult and accommodate First Nations with respect to decisions that potentially infringe Aboriginal Title and Rights. If this duty is not met, approvals and decisions are vulnerable to legal challenge.
The impacts of an oil tanker spill on the rights and cultures of coastal First Nations and others that depend on wild salmon are potentially devastating.