EDITORIAL: Pipeline plan worth the risk?

Proposed Enbridge pipeline from Alberta oil sands to Kitimat could spell disaster

Enbridge Inc. reported a leak from one of its pipelines the same day public hearings began into the company’s proposed $5.5 billion Northern Gateway project.

A helicopter inspection found a three-foot patch of bubbles near the Calgary company’s Stingray natural gas pipeline, 100 kilometres from the Louisiana coast.

Enbridge has experienced a series of spills in the past two years, which have undermined its arguments on safety.

Chiefs and elders from the Haisla first nations community, warned the three-member federal review panel that an oil spill would devastate their way of life. They have lived in the area for up to 2,000 years and rely on the ocean for food – salmon, halibut, cod, clams, crabs and shrimp.

Enbridge contends that a 1,172-kilometre twin pipeline, between the Alberta oil sands and Kitimat, can be built and operated safely – with tugboat support, navigational aids and a mountain tunnel.

But the channel has a history of violent winds, earthquakes and avalanches, heavy rain causing mudslides. Part of the pipeline would pass through an area with clay soil known for landslides. Furthermore, tankers would navigate Hecate Strait, ranked by Environment Canada as the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world.

Sounds challenging.

And how would Enbridge get to a pipeline leak buried under five feet of snow?

It seems like a recipe for disaster, a matter of when, not if.

Why not find another route? Some have suggested reversing the flow east, or to Prince Rupert, which already has a large port, and a natural gas line. But the latter would be longer, more costly, and not without its own environmental concerns.

– Maple Ridge News