Tankers too risky for coast environment


I am, God knows, no scientist and it’s this that made by heart warm when I saw the story in the Vancouver Sun, September 1 at page A5 headlined “Tankers too risky for coast environment, engineers say”.

Three engineers including two professors emeritus from UBC have verified what I and others have been saying for some time. From the story: “Known as Dilbit, diluted bitumen is a mix of heavy crude oil and a condensate that allows it to flow through a pipe, the analysis explains. When Dilbit spills occur, the condensate separates from the bitumen and forms a toxic cloud, poisonous to all life around a spill” …

“And whereas lighter oil floats on the surface of water where it’s easier to clean up, bitumen sinks to the bottom in fresh water and to a level below the surface in saline water.”

“In both cases it is almost impossible to clean up and tides and currents can spread it over vast areas, with severe and catastrophic consequences for fisheries, marine life, and human safety.” (Emphasis added)

This is scarcely the whole picture when we remember that the Enbridge pipeline travels 1100 kms over the world’s most formidable terrain where the spills are many times more likely to happen than on the coast and will be unreachable by the company which won’t be able to do anything about them anyway. Because these spills will remain, we have a serial polluter on our hands with each new spill adding a new area of devastation.

There is another area no one seems to want to talk about – vandalism or terrorism. We have seen examples of this with gas lines in the Peace area – why do we ignore them with Enbridge and the Kinder Morgan lines.

Yet one more area of concern is how the public and the authorities ever know if there’s a spill on either of these lines. Kinder Morgan has had spills in populated areas but have there been others along their lines that have simply been repaired with none any the wiser?

It’s past time for Premier Clark to make it clear that the Province opposes both the pipelines and the tanker traffic and will do all in its power to prevent them from happening.


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.

5 thoughts on “Tankers too risky for coast environment

  1. > forms a toxic cloud, poisonous to all life around a spill” …

    You quoted another news article, but that quote is not actually in the analysis by the engineers. Where does it actually come from? I think people need to be more aware of and concerned about the solvent exposure issue, but not at the cost of misquoting things!

  2. As BC controls and regulates the transport of dangerous goods and pipelines are a form of transportation, why not classify bitumen a dangerous good and tax the hell out of it when crossing our fine province? If the feds want to approve the pipeline fine. BC can then tax the transport of those goods until it is economically prohibitive to proceed with the pipeline. Hit them where they live in the pocketbook.

  3. I, for one, support Adrian Dix’s pledge to set up a BC environmental review process for the Gateway pipeline. Critics claim the fix is in because he opposes the pipeline anyways. But, consider:

    Harper has set things up so that he and his cabinet have the final say and approve the pipeline if the JRP recommends against the pipeline. If the JRP approves the pipeline, Harper does not need to exercise his cabinet clout. This is a classic case of “Heads-I win; Tails-you lose!!!”

    For Adrian Dix, If the JRP rules against the pipeline, he will not have to put the BC environmental review process into motion. I also believe his stance puts the JRP on notice that it had better give BC environmental concerns due consideration.

    BC needs a fall-back position in case the Federal fix becomes a reality. British Columbians should be grateful that someone is looking out for us.

  4. I’m sure that safety concerns could be addressed (whether they would be or not is another question; since dealing with them properly would be very expensive, probably not). But there’s a more fundamental objection. We don’t want that oil burned at all. There is far too much carbon in the atmosphere and we’re going to be led a merry dance dealing with the stuff already there. Why go to enormous expense and trouble to put more in? Just to make a few people rich? Are those people going to pay for dealing with the consequences of climate change?

  5. Glad you mentioned Terrorism and Vandalism as concerns Rafe as they are very real and almost invited or dared by our idiotic governments approach to try and sell this project. We all remember the blonde bimbo pushing their wares as ethical oil,whle suggesting other producers by comparison to be unethical, meanwhile hypocritically importing this unethical offshore oil for use by Canadians.
    Our people,Joe Oliver, Vic Teows are like very bad Kareoke on the world stage. Do the really think their will be no reprecussions for these actions.
    This is truly a case where burning the candle at both ends will end up in disaster.

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