Review process fatally flawed

Kitimat Northern Sentinel July 22, 2009
Chris Genovali

Re: “Channel Watch demands inquiry” (Sentinel, July 8), the federal government’s joint review panel (JRP) process for the proposed Enbridge “Northern Gateway” pipeline is fatally flawed as the parameters for assessing risk illogically stop at the putative Kitimat terminal.Beyond the Kitimat terminal the potential impacts of the Enbridge pipeline enter the realm of the unthinkable with regard to the greater marine environment.

For instance, a catastrophic Exxon Valdez-like spill would be devastating for BC’s marine bird populations and the environments they inhabit.

In the immediate aftermath of the Exxon-Valdez, it was estimated that several hundreds of thousands of marine birds were killed.

Further, after two decades, a number of marine bird populations have not yet recovered in the areas affected by the Exxon-Valdez disaster.

Raincoast Conservation has been working to fill basic knowledge gaps regarding seasonal and inter-annual marine bird distribution, density and seasonal shifts in community assemblages in the waters adjacent to BC’s Central and North coast.

By repeatedly surveying marine waters, from Dixon Entrance to Queen Charlotte Strait and adjacent mainland inlets, Raincoast has documented over 70 species and amassed nearly 20,000 sightings of over 100,000 individual marine and other coastal birds.

Raincoast scientists continue to seek to identify areas important for marine birds and examine the potential for conflict with increasing industrial activity, like oil tanker traffic.

The JRP should have been expanded in its scope to include risks from coastal tanker traffic to the marine environment; the pipeline and attendant tanker traffic cannot be compartmentalized as they are essentially one in the same and to pretend otherwise makes a mockery of the process.

Chris Genovali,
Executive director,
Raincoast Conservation

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