National Energy Board panel hears more concerns about pipeline

Alison Taplay is concerned about threats to more than 1,000 kilometres of pipeline constructed in an earthquake zone.

NATIONAL ENERGY BOARD reviewers listen to presentations inside the Comox Community Centre.

NATIONAL ENERGY BOARD reviewers listen to presentations inside the Comox Community Centre.

Alison Taplay is concerned about tanker accidents, oil spills and even terrorism that could threaten more than 1,000 kilometres of pipeline constructed in an earthquake zone.

Geraldine Kenny questions if the public or the applicant will pay cleanup costs when and if an oil spill occurs.

They were two of about 20 speakers at a community hearing for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project on Friday at the Comox Community Centre, where the National Energy Board had conducted hearings in March.

Enbridge proposes to ship upwards of 500,000 barrels of oil per day from the Alberta tar sands to Kitimat in northern B.C.

At first she thought the idea ludicrous, but Taplay fears the pipeline could be a target for terrorism.

“We all need to adapt our thinking to these new realities,” she said.

Taplay also noted Enbridge’s “poor record of responding in a timely manner” to spills two years ago in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and more recently in Wisconsin. She asked the NEB to protect the coast and the public from a project driven in her opinion by “corporate greed.”

Kenny, who operates a B&B on Quadra Island, feels the proposal defies common sense.

“An oil spill on our coast would shut down the coastal tourism industry for decades, let alone those depending on marine life for food,” she said. “If he (Enbridge) was my plumber, I would fire him. If Air Canada or Lufthansa had Enbridge’s safety record, they would be out of business.”

Taplay and Kenny both feel the Enbridge proposal dishonours First Nations that oppose the project. Kenny noted 61 First Nations in the Fraser River watershed signed a 2010 declaration that prohibits the transport of tar sands oil through their territories or through salmon migration routes.

The province will cross examine Northern Gateway Pipelines on the Enbridge project at joint panel final hearings scheduled in Edmonton, Prince George and Prince Rupert from Sept. 4 to December.

Subject to regulatory approval, construction of the pipeline is proposed to extend from mid-2014 to the latter part of 2017. The public and government review process continues into next year. Consultation with the public and First Nations continues through 2017.

• • •

Members of Cyclists to Protect Our Coast pedalled Friday from Courtenay to Comox where they gathered outside the National Energy Board community hearings.

The group adopted the slogan after hearing it from like-minded people in Parksville, some of whom joined the rally at the Comox Community Centre.

“We like that (name of group) because it gives it a positive spin,” group member Sally Gellard said. “We have to do something to wake up everybody, so we’re trying to be visible. We’re trying to let everybody know that most of us living in B.C. don’t want this pipeline.”

While construction would occur in northern B.C., Gellard notes the “big ocean” and shared coastline.

“Our children and our great grandchildren are going to live here and they’re going to want to have a healthy life. It’s way too dangerous for our future.”

B.C. stands to garner $6.7 billion of Northern Gateway’s projected $81 billion in tax revenue over 30 years, according to research commissioned by the province.

While understanding the potential economic benefits of the pipeline, Gellard feels an oil spill is inevitable because tankers would come through “that twisted coastline that we have.

“It will be devastating,” she said. “It’ll wipe out life as we know it on our coast.”

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