Friends of Wild Salmon Pipeline and Tanker Blog

JRP Final Technical Hearing Summary: Edmonton, Day 10

Brenda Gaertner continued her examination of Northern Gateway Pipelines’ (NGP) witness panel for the Coastal First Nations. She began by obtaining agreement from the panel that there is a 93% chance of a tanker spill, terminal spill, or full bore pipeline rupture happening in 50 years operation of the system.

She investigated an issue “raised by many researchers” that the IOPCF insurane claims, typically used as a reference for oil spill costs, “probably underestimated the cost of oil spills since they do not include environmental damage costs.”

This brought her back to Enbridge’s Michigan spill, where the actual costs so far are more than $767 million, or $38,000 per barrel of oil. She contrasted that to the $14,000 per barrel, the cost of a large spill used in the Northern Gateway cost-benefit analysis.

Ms. Gaertner confirmed that Northern Gateway had not considered at all the “social cost of conflict” nor the cost of that conflict on the public interest in its cost benefit analysis. Northern Gateway’s Dr. Ruitenbeek replied, “That’s 100 percent correct.”

Mr. Roth for Northern Gateway promptly objected, saying that when [David Cutts of the Veterans of Clayoquot] spoke in Comox, “you shut him down … and I suggest you shut down this line of questioning now.”

In his oral statement on March 30. Mr. Cutts said to the Panel, “If this project proceeds, there’s going to be such a backlash from the citizenry that I’m very much afraid what I saw at Clayoquot, with 859 arrestees, is going to be a drop in the bucket.”

Mr. Cutts continued, “You are part of a process that may result in huge numbers of people being arrested and jailed under criminal contempt of court, such as I was.”

Sheila Leggett, the Chairperson of the Joint Review Panel reminded everyone that “the joint panel review is a lawful process,” which was never in question.

Carol Hales took over for the rest of the day, representing the National Energy Board. Her questions ranged over a number of financial topics.

Noting that Northern Gateway has over 600,000 barrels per day of “precedent agreements” signed for shipping capacity on the 525,000 bpd oil pipeline, she asked whether NGP might expand the pipeline even before construction.

Told that there’s nothing that would prevent it, she replied, “So we’d have to do this all over again?” resulting in one of the rare moments of laughter in these hearings.

For a more detailed summary, please see the following document: