Gerald Graham of Victoria-based Worldocean Consulting Ltd. said that calculations based on
Enbridge’s own research show there is a 8.7
-to-14.1-per-cent chance of at least one tanker spillgreater than 31,500 barrels over a 50-year period, depending on whether the pipeline has a525,000 or 850,000 barrel per day capacity.
“The consequences of a major oil spill along B.C.’s north coast … could be catastrophic andirreversible,” he says in a submission t
o the Joint Review Panel studying the Enbridge proposal.
“Couple this potentially disastrous outcome with a one
-in-seven chance of one or more majorspills occurring, and the overall threat level posed by Northern Gateway becomes unacceptably
Graham said two events led him into the oil-spill business: the 250,000-barrel Exxon Valdezsupertanker spill in Alaska on March 24, 1989, and the Nestucca accident of Dec. 23, 1988, inwhich 5,500 barrels bunker C oil leaked from a barge off Grays Harbor, Wash., drifted north intoB.C. waters.
He also served as “full
house consultant” to a federal oil
-spill review panel, whose 1990report recommended, in part, double-hulled tankers and that cleanup volunteers be paid for theirservices and be covered by then-
Workers’ Compensation Board regulations.
B.C.’s “sinuous” and isolated coastline, lack of infrastructure and powerful storms, “all mitigate
against effective oil spill response operations, especially during winter months when the days are
would pose overwhelming challenges to oil-spill responders, Graham said.At risk are coastal First Nations communities, shellfish harvesting areas, commercial fishing,ecotourism, marine life
especially diving birds
and protected areas, including potentiallyGwaii Haanas National Park and National Marine Conservation Area reserves.Graham said a ban on crude-
oil tankers “has been scrupulously observed” in the Queen Charlotte
Basin since 1972 consistent with a moratorium on B.C. offshore oil and gas exploration, a wisedecision in light of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.While Transport Canada says Northern Gateway tankers can safely access a terminal in Kitimat,
Graham said the marine component of the project “is not in fact safe” and “as a whole is not inthe public interest.”
Graham noted it is the carrier of the oil
the tanker owner, not Enbridge
who would beresponsible for oil-spill cleanup operations and associated costs, with Coast Guard assuming amonitoring role, initially at least.He added Enbridge has not adequately explained how it would clean up after a bitumen spill, orhow much would likely be recovered.
“It is clearly in the long
-term public interest of all of Canada to save this relatively pristineenvironment, the largest area of intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world, from the ravages
of unchecked industrial development.” he said.