BC refuses to answer questions from Douglas Channel Watch, because province hasn’t filed Gateway evidence

Updated with comment from Douglas Channel Watch and DCW questions to province.

The province of British Columbia is refusing to answer questions from the Kitimat group Douglas Channel Watch about the Northern Gateway pipeline project  because, the province’s lawyer says, BC hasn’t filed any evidence and so doesn’t have answer questions through the Joint Review Process.

In a filing on May 28, Christopher Jones, counsel for BC before the JRP says:

the province of British Columbia wishes to advise that it will not be responding to this information request as the Province has not filed evidence in this proceeding.

In the letter  Jones invites Douglas Channel Watch to contact him so the group can ask questions from the “appropriate offiicial.”

The fact that the province is brushing off Douglas Channel Watch raises an even larger question, why hasn’t the province filed any evidence in one of the biggest environmental, economic and political stories in provincial history?

The filing from Douglas Channel Watch was an attempt to find out who would be financially responsible for any oil spill resulting from a pipeline breach near Kitimat that could threaten the District’s water supply, a major issue with the Kitimat based environmental group.

In an early filing with the Joint Review Panel Enbridge said.

Regardless of whether or not insurance covers losses and liabilities of Northern Gateway and/or third parties, Northern  Gateway would make good the damages which it has caused. Recovery ofthese costs under Northern Gateway’s procured insurance programs would be governed by the general laws of insurance, the terms and conditions of the insurance policies and Northern Gateway’s obligations to its insurers regarding the reporting, investigation and adjustment of its incurred costs in making good the damages.

Enbridge then goes on to list the standard exclusions from insurance policies.

      • Criminal intent
      • Wilful misconduct or intent
      • Deliberate destruction
      • Intentional violation of any statute, rule, ordinance or regulation
      • Non-compliance with reporting and notification requirements
      • Breach of contract
      • Unfair trade, competition or deceptive acts
      • Nuclear liability
      • War, terrorism, rebellions, civil war or civil strife


In their questions to the province, Douglas Channel Watch emphasized the phrase that Enbridge would “make good the damages which it has caused.” Douglas Channel Watch then emphasized the insurance exclusion for war, terrorism or civil strife.

The group was then asking the province what its responsibility would be, especially when a pipeline goes through forested areas, which come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Lands and Forests.

Douglas Channel Watch is specifically concerned that

In the upper Kitimat River and Hoult Creek valleys there are very large logging clear cuts on steep slopes. The proponent intends to locate its pipelines near the bottom of these clear cuts

The main question to the province from Douglas Channel Watch is that if a landslide results from a clear cut in a geologically unstable area, and that landslide breaches the pipeline, who is responsible for the cleanup, asking these questions, which the province refused to answer:

  • Could this allow the proponent to avoid paying for third party damages and clean up costs if an avalanche and/or debris slide which initiates in a logging clear cut… for example, a 2,000,000 litre full bore diluted bitumen pipeline rupture into Hoult Creek or the Kitimat River?
  • Would not those damages to third parties and clean up costs then be paid by the party responsible ?
  • Would the responsible party be the Government of BC for allowing the pipelines to be located in areas which violate safe logging practices where linear infrastructure may be impacted?
  • If the Government of Canada imposes a decision to allow the proponents project over the objections of the Government of BC or the recommendation of the Joint Review Panel, would the Government of Canada then be the responsible party?


Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch responded by noting. “It may be true the Prov of BC hasn’t submitted evidence, but they have been involved in the JRP process”  by filing questions to Enbridge.

Meanwhile, Douglas Channel Watch is organizing a public forum called North Coast Reality Check at the Kitimat Riverlodge Recreation Centre on June 8 from  7 pm to  9 pm.

In a news release, Minchin, says presentations will be given by DCW members highlighting many serious issues Enbridge prefers not to talk about, such as geological and marine hazards, corrosion in double hull tankers, and socio-economic impacts of the Northern Gateway proposal.

Response from BC to IR from Douglas Channel Watch   (PDF)

Douglas Channel Watch Information Request to Government of BC  (PDF)

BC Government questions to Enbridge

Province of BC Information question No 1 Northern Gateway project (PDF)

Province of BC Information Request 2  (PDF)