Oil-soaked marsh from Plains Mainstream spill (supplied photo)

Plains Midstream Disaster Should be Wake-Up Call Re: Enbridge Proposal


Every one of us stops and looks at our own situation sometimes and asks, “Why the hell am I doing this?”

This self examination may be about personal habits such as, “Why do I play the slots when they’re mathematically impossible to beat?” Or, “Why do I do this job when I’ve long had an alternative I would love?” Or it may be, “Who do I think I’m kidding when I say I don’t drink too much?!”

I had this blood rush to my head the other morning when I read the Globe and Mail’s articleon the Plains Midstream oil line burst into the Red Deer River. This is the second major spill for Plains Midstream within the past two years and bids fair to be the largest oil disaster in Alberta’s history. (Remember that this is ordinary crude not the Bitumen Enbridge and the tankers are all about.)

This article debates the ways and means to take pipelines either through, above or under a stream or river – Enbridge would cross 1000 of them.

This had me reflecting on the proposed Enbridge twin lines (one to carry the bitumen and one to take condensate back to the Tar Sands) over the Rockies, into the trench, over the Coast Range through the Great Bear Rainforest to the head of treacherous Douglas Channel.

We’re starting to hear all about how Enbridge will apply its talents to the safest pipeline money can buy; at the same time we’re hearing about how much safer tanker traffic is than in days of yore.

What the hell are we doing even considering this project, let alone debating how “safe” we can make it? Do we, as a people, have to put our hand on the stove to confirm all the evidence that we’ll get burned? And why are we doing all this as a favour to Alberta and Ottawa?
It suddenly struck me that it was like was talking with my doctor about how to remove my appendix when I had no symptoms of appendicitis. If I didn’t need to take a risk then why would I? So the surgeon could make some money? So it must surely be asked about the Enbridge pipeline and the subsequent tanker traffic, “WHY IN GOD’S NAME ARE WE EVEN TALKING ABOUT PERMITTING THESE CERTAIN DISASTERS IN OUR PRECIOUS LAND AND COASTLINE?”
There has never been a less necessary catastrophe in the making in our history.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

8 thoughts on “Plains Midstream Disaster Should be Wake-Up Call Re: Enbridge Proposal

  1. Yea well I work in the Nuclear field and i don’t know about what you know but at least I have an idea of how much we really depend on this stuff, dirty or not its a huge part of human culture. Until we find an alternative source of energy and be able to harness it, this will be the way of life. As for you using your computer to call me a hypocrite, well I think thats the pot calling the kettle black, enjoy your ride to work in your nice car topped up with gas and lubricated with oil.

  2. Nealy D’s comment is a typical, “you’re a hypocrite to criticize anything about the oil industry, if you use ____________” fill in the blanks with your favourite oil-based product. Your six-figure salary in Fort McMurray doesn’t make you incapable of defending said industry?

  3. Hey, if any of you drive a car, cut your grass, carry your sandwich in a plastic bag or tupperware, then your just as much to blame for the spills as they are. They wouldn’t have to pump so much if the world didn’t demand it.

    Also if you have a bunch of gold bars in your backyard that is worth a pile of money, wouldnt you try and sell it if your pockets are empty and your dependants are screaming for money and food?!?

  4. I don’t understand it either. I haven’t spoken to many who are in favour of the pipelines or tankers. Just Stevie stlime & his slimers & the lieberals. we won’t be making money. the product goes to a country who hasn’t done anything for anybody but themselves & has a terrible human rights & enviornmental record. Its like helping the enemy.

    It is beyond me why Stevie slime wants this. Surely he is made of sterner stuff than to give in to China. So that always brings me to the question of what do they have on him, what are they paying him, & when did he loose his brain?

    If they want to move bitamen & it was reallllllly necessary it could be taken to the U.S.A. via a rail line, which is already there. I just don’t get it. I don’t know what people will do if they start this before the next election, but I don’t think its going to be pretty.

    People need to realize this country is not for the next few yrs. We have to think of where it will be in 100 or 200 yrs. If other countries are truly running out of oil we would be wise to keep our bitamen in the ground until it is really necessary to use.

  5. Harper is merging Canada in with Communist China. In China, the people have to wear masks, so they can breath. Harper is no different than China, as far as human rights and pollution.

    It does not matter to Harper, if the Red Deer River overflowed, and poisoned Red Deer for hundreds of miles around, which is exactly what is happening. Harper is rabid and insane for power and money.

    Harper does not care, if BC becomes a polluted wasteland….that’s exactly what Harper wants. He isn’t called spiteful Stevie for nothing.

    The Campbell/Clark BC Liberals and Boessenkool. are helping Harper with his destruction of BC wish. Harper shutting a Coast Guard station down. Moving the oil clean-up out of BC.

    Christy has not lifted a finger to stop, the atrocities on BC. She is adding to them. So many raw logs have gone to Communist China, our mills are running out of timber. Christy wants to log our rain forests, so those logs can shipped to Communist China as well.

    Christy does support the Enbridge pipeline. Harper’s henchman Boessenkool, is with the BC Liberals. He works for Harper, and lobbies for Enbridge. Christy has to keep her mouth shut,…for now.

  6. Rafe,

    Read the history of spills in Alberta where the writer a PhD (Sean Kheraj) comes to this stunning conclusion: “…Energy Resources Conservation Board, industry specialists and regulators not only know that this system has never been free from oil spills, but that a spill-free system is an impossible goal…”

    Part I http://www.seankheraj.com/?p=1050 called Alberta’s Oil Spill History
    and Part II The History of Oil Pipeline Spills in Alberta, 2006-2012 http://www.seankheraj.com/?p=1257#comment-53005

    People need to be aware!

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