Enbridge oil spill confirms concerns about about proposed BC pipeline

(Terrace, BC) Enbridge’s recent 126,000-gallon oil spill from a pipeline in North Dakota, discovered last Friday, has confirmed northern BC residents’ concerns about the company’s proposed oil pipeline through their region.

“Enbridge simply cannot prevent oil spills from its pipelines,” said Jennifer Rice, Chair of Friends of Wild Salmon. “And in our watersheds, even one oil spill of this magnitude is unacceptable.”

Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline would carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to a supertanker port at Kitimat, crossing several wild salmon watersheds.

“Had the spill occurred here in Northern B.C along Enbridge’s proposed pipeline, the effects could have been catastrophic to the Skeena’s wild salmon economy, estimated to be worth over $100 million per year,” added Rice.

“What would happen if this spill had occurred along the Morice River?” asked Rice. “Enbridge has no way to effectively deal with an oil or condensate spill into a fast flowing river.”

“The rivers along the proposed Gateway pipeline contain important salmon redds [spawning gravel] and an oil spill would inflict havoc on the incubating eggs and small fish rearing in these rivers,” explained Todd Stockner, a longtime Steelhead angling guide from the Kispiox Valley. “Salmon eggs can be found in these rivers for as much as seven months of the year and even a small amount of oil would kill them.”

In 2000, a pipeline spill in northeastern BC spilled one million liters of oil into the Pine River, spreading 20 kilometers downstream from the spill site and causing significant fish mortality. The spill contaminated the Chetwynd’s water supply, and water has been trucked in or drawn from other sources to meet the community’s drinking water needs.

“If an accident like the North Dakota spill or the Pine River spill were to occur near the Kitimat River, Kitimat residents’ drinking water source would likely be polluted,” said Margaret Ouwehand, a member of the organization Douglas Channel Watch.

According to the Enbridge website, the company had 80 pipeline spills in 2008, up from 59 pipeline spills in 2007.

For more info contact:
Jennifer Rice: 250-600-2455
Todd Stockner: 250-842-6401
Margaret Ouwehand: 250-632-3337

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