Finn Deschener (front) and Justin Kopy

Finn Deschener (front) and Justin Kopy

Seaton secondary school uses social media for a cause

Vernon high school students take on the Enbridge Northgate pipeline project by spreading awareness.

Seaton School students are using social media for a social cause.

Teacher Paul Britton asked his Science 10 class to watch a video about the Enbridge Northgate pipeline project and do some research on whether or not they thought this would be a good thing for Canada.

“Look at it objectively. Find out the facts. If you feel helpless to do anything about environmental issues, see what you can do short-term and long-term. Think of something you want to make a change with,” he told the class after they had had a chance to find out more about the 1,600 kilometre dual pipe line that would run from near Edmonton to Kitimat where the oil would be transferred to supertankers for transport, mostly to China.

The students found a variety of concerns about the pipeline, some from Enbridge’s own website, including how the pipeline would impact wild life, particularly the Spirit bear, the rare white bear that is a symbol of B.C., other animal movement, and forests.

They also see a huge potential for losses for First Nations cultures, tourism and fisheries. They noted that while some jobs will be created while the pipeline is being built, it will create few long-term jobs for Canadians and that it is their generation that will have to deal with the effects of any disasters of the pipeline, which has an estimated lifespan of 25 years. Even the expected leakage as reported by the Enbridge site made them wonder about the environmental impact. For example, daily leakage along the line, including to water supplies and wildlife, would be permanent and could add up over the years to something nobody would want anywhere near where they live.

They had their calculators busy showing that a teaspoon of leakage per barrel (42 gallons) for 525,000 barrels of oil daily is a lot of oil into the environment.

“We really don’t know very much about this pipeline. It seems like the information is about the economics of it, but when you look at all the factors, think about supertankers and rough seas on the coast and spills, is it worth it?” said Finn Deschener, who is getting the message out on Facebook. “We want to get some legitimate information out there because everything seems to be done behind closed doors and people feel they have no say. Somebody is benefitting and it’s not the general public. We might have a rally.”

They came to the issue late in the process. The National Energy Board is scheduled to make a decision about construction March 16 but there has not been much public information or input to the decision making.

Aja King is working on a Facebook-Wikipages link where the research the class has done can be made available.

“We need to educate people. People don’t know a lot about this, we didn’t know a lot when we started the project. I just put the page up today and we already have 13 likes so I think we can do some good,” she said.