The executive director of the Coastal First Nations believes an oil spill due to the proposed $5.5-billion Enbridge pipeline out to Kitimat would spell “the end of the coast” as he knows it. And he doesn’t feel fine.
While Enbridge kicked off the process several years ago that has led to the Northern Gateway proposal of 1,172-kilometre twin pipelines across B.C., Art Sterritt said his own group has studied the pros and cons these past three or four years and concluded there is no real benefit to having the pipeline built, but there are plenty of potential hazards.
Sterritt is primarily concerned with finding out more about “the safety of pipelines, the safety of tanker traffic, the safety of double-hulled tankers, the safety of pilots, and the safety of tugs”. Sterritt claimed Enbridge has not provided them with this info. So CFN has commissioned technical reports to try and find this out, even as hearings have kicked off on the project that will span across the Rockies from Edmonton to Kitimat.
“We’ve tried to talk about the safety of clean-up,” Sterritt told the Straight by phone. “Everybody talks about ‘new technology’. The reality is, 20-some-odd years ago in Valdez, the technology that was used to not clean up oil there was the same technology used in the Gulf a couple of summers ago. There is no new technology to clean up oil. You can’t clean it up. If we have a spill, it’s the end of the coast as we know it. It’s the end of our livelihood.”
For this reason, Coastal First Nations and other First Nations and environmental groups are redoubling efforts to fight the pipeline, something Sterritt said he believes will result in it not getting built. On January 22, from 1:30 to 5 p.m., Sterritt will join Rex Weyler, founder of Tanker Free B.C., and federal NDP leadership candidate Nathan Cullen for a panel discussion at the Roundhouse Community Centre.
“We are not going to allow an oil culture to overtake the culture of the coast of British Columbia,” Sterritt said. “That’s what they [pipelines] do. That’s what they did in Alaska and that’s what they did in the Gulf of Mexico. They are just not welcome to do that here. There’s just no reason for it.”
Admission is free for the discussion, called Oil Free Coast: Tankers and Pipelines: Protecting and Preserving our Land.
Cullen and CFN are cosponsoring the event. Ta’Kaiya Blaney, environmentalist and singer-songwriter, will also be putting in an appearance.