Enbridge, the world leader in crude oil pipelines, proposed a pipeline running from a tar sand oil plant in Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. If passed, this pipeline will ship hundreds of barrels of oil a day to a port in Kitimat, where the majority will be shipped to Asia. Enbridge claims that there will be large economic benefits (jobs), especially local. However, there a many risks, economical, environmentally, and negative health effects such as weakness, seizures, and possibly cancer.
1 Enbridge still hopes to get approval even though there is a wall of opposition, especially from locals. Gil McGowan, President of AFL says “The pipeline will create environmental destruction, take potential upgrading and refining jobs away from Canadians, and put our country's energy security at risk.” 3 The Northern Gateway Pipeline risks greatly outway the benefits.
The NGP is too risky and should not be built. Firstly, Enbridge claims that risk of an accident and/a spill is “minimal” and there is nothing to worry about. However, many say elsewise. According to www.pipeupagainstenbridge.ca, “the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline alone would cross over 800 streams and rivers alone. . .” This includes sensitive salmon spawning ground, a large local resource as well as tourist attraction. Additionally http://www.globalnews.ca states that, “4 million hectares of Canada’s Boreal Forest are under threat of being clearcut.”
This is includes the Great Bear forest, “one of the largest remaining tracts of rainforest in the world.” Among its diverse plant and animal life lives the extremely rare and elusive “spirit bear” a subspecies of the American Black Bear. This stretch of forest is the only place on earth known to be home to this creature. Scientists at Greenpeace Canada and the council of Canadians claim that “the tarsands produce excessive amounts of greenhouse gases, diminish air quality, destroy natural habitats for wildlife, and contaminate underground surface water supplies.” The actual “piping” of the oil isn’t as risk free as Enbridge plea’s either. Oil spills along the pipeline’s vast route are a very real threat.
TransCanada’s other Keystone pipeline, which delivers oil to the U.S. Midwest has experienced 14 spills, including the latest even, a spill at a North Dakota pipeline pumping station in May 2011. If that isn’t enough, Enbridge accidents have spilled a total of 132,175 barrels of oil since 2000, causing devastating effects on the environment near the spills according to The Watershed Sentinel. All of these pose large and possibly catastrophic environmental disasters, that Enbridge probably won’t try to fix. Enbridge has been known to avoid their messes and just sweep them under the carpet. More the reason why the NGP is a terrible idea that should not be put through with.
Secondly, after reaching Kitimat, around 725,000 dead weight tons of oil will be loaded onto tankers and sent to Asia 252 times a year. The shipping of the oil is claimed to be almost risk free due to modern technology, radar, double hulled boats, so on. These tankers will be navigating treacherous coast and channels, some barely accessible to the massive ships. Even with modern technology, human failure or freak events may cause a spill and just one is all it takes to ruin these valuable resource filled waterways of the B.C. North Coast.
The Exxon Valdez, a large oil tanker, is an excellent example of this. On its way to Long Beach, CA the tanker struck a well known reef and spilled around 750,000 barrels of oil into the ocean, is is considered on the largest environmental disasters in history. The crash was supposedly cause by the intoxication of the captain.This type of accident will be possible regularly if the NGP passes, and these tankers will be eight times larger. Here one of the locals states his views of the possibility of an oil spill, “Our communities have taken a stand against the Northern Gateway pipeline because we would lose everything,” said Gerald Amos, member of the Haisla First Nation and Director of the Headwaters Initiative.
“This pipeline is where we draw the line. Big oil pipelines and the accompanying oil super tankers mean that life as we know it will be over.” The highly corrosive and acidic diluted bitumen is especially hard to clean from water, unlike regular crude oil, which remains on the top of the water, the tar sand bitumen is denser, making it sink. According to Nathan Lemphers, senior policy analyst, the Pembina Institute, “While the considerable environmental impacts of bitumen production are well documented, the increased risk and potential harm from transporting bitumen is less known.”
Current events should be enough to realize that the shipping of this oil is a terrible idea. BP, Rena container ship, and the cruise ship tragedy prove that accidents happen under zero harsh conditions. The proposed route would travel through difficult maneuvers, with unmarkedhazards. Hurricanes can force sea up to 10 meters often as well. Another danger is “the Hecate Strait, a major section of the route, is considered the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world.” according to http://environmentaldefence.ca Lastly, is a spill should occur, only 10 to 15 percent of the oil could be cleaned. In this remote and storm racked tanker route, probably less.
The proposed shipping route is a ridiculous idea, a brief look at the facts and that is made clear. Spill’s are likely, and almost impossible to clean, so why even still consider? Thirdly, Enbridge’s main reason for the construction of the pipeline, and their only reason, is positive economic benefits. These benefits include $1.2 billion in tax revenue for British Columbians, and $270 billion growth to Canada’s GDP(gross domestic product) over 30 years according to Enbridge itself, with only a $7 billion dollar cost to construct.
However, one spill could change all that. According to University of British Columbia, one spill could cost local fishermen, the Port of Prince Rupert, BC Ferries and marine tourism operators roughly $300-million, 4,000 full-time jobs and $200-million in contribution to GDP over 50 years.
This does not include the estimate 9.6 billion that would be used to clean the spill, the cost of a single spill is around $10 billion. Compared to the local British Columbian profit of $300 million, that is a very large number. A single spill would “wipe out” economic gains from the pipeline, thus making the entire project a waste in the first place, leaving Canada billions of dollars behind. This information comes from WWF-Canada, one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries.
According to another UBC teacher, Enbridge the case for building the pipeline is restriction of oil supply from the U.S and Canada to go to the Asian market. However, when redirected “it will immediately force the price of oil up for every barrel produced in Western Canada.” This means that petroleum product prices will rise for Canada and it’s people. Another point is that Enbridge claims that there will be a large rise in jobs for Canadian locals, when in fact, most of the work will be undertaken outside of Canada.With possible billions of dollars of loss, jobs that don’t exist, and “economic benefits” that are non-specific and twisted, it would seem that Enbridge has been rather misleading when it comes to their claims concerning economic benefits.
Overall, with these rather disappointing revelations, it is clear that the Northern Gateway Pipeline is not worth the risk in any which way. Overall, the Northern Gateway Pipeline risks and losses outweigh its benefits, which are generally over-exaggerated. The pipelines large environmental dangers, both on land and in water are not only harmful to the wildlife but great economic losses. Enbridge itself is untrustworthy, covering up its messes and not taking responsibility. The majority of the benefits go towards Enbridge, not Canada and British Columbia. Costing billions of dollars and quite possibly billions of more for Canada, when they barely profit a portion of the overall rewards.
The plan itself will raise prices for petroleum products in Canada, costing the locals thousands, and the country a lot more. The proposed pipeline is dangerous and it’s plans unstable, it is a time bomb with disastrous results for everyone except Enbridge. The Northern Gateway Pipelines risk heavily outweigh the risks and should not be put through with.