At the same time, the US Academy of Sciences has opened a new investigation into diluted bitumen.
A letter critical of Enbridge, previously overlooked by the US media is getting new traction, as the anniversary of the Marshall, Michigan, Kalamazoo River spill approaches on July 25.
Enbridge, so far, has not responded to the National Wildlife Federation report.
The environmental group opens the report by saying:
As the biggest transporter of Canadian tarsands oil into the U.S., Enbridge has aresponsibility to the American public to manage their operations in a manner that protects our comm unities and natural resources. But tarsands oil is a very different beast than conventional crude oil, and it is difficult to transport the former safely through pipelines that were designed for the latter. That’s because tarsands oil is more corrosive(due to its chemical mixture)and abrasive(due to high-gritminerals), weakening the pipes to the point that they are more susceptible t oleaks and ruptures. Remarkably, there are no standards in place to ensure that new pipelines are built, maintained and operated with this fact in mind.
The National Wildlife Association goes on to say:
fossil fuel companies have a ‘stranglehold’ on our political establishment, preventing even modest initiatives that could make our energy safer and cleaner. That lobby strategy keeps in place a system that’s led to 804 spills by Enbridge alone in the last decade, and a total of 6,781,950 gallons of oil spilled in the U.S. and Canada.
“Rather than focus on safety and cleanup, Enbridge is recklessly moving ahead with plans to expand their pipeline network in the Great Lakes region and the Northeast, and to double down on high carbon fuel that is proving nearly impossible to clean from Michigan’s waters,” said Beth Wallace, NWF’s Great Lakes outreach advisor.
NWF’s report recommends comprehensive reforms to break the cycle of spills and pollution that continue to threaten communities and speed global warming. Among them, the report calls for stronger safety standards that account for increased dangers associated with heavy tar sands oil, increasing investment in clean energy and efficiency, and campaign and lobbying reforms that would put impacted citizens on a level playing field with Big Oil in the halls of Congress.
The NWF report then says:
The Kalamazoo spill may have been a poster child for corporate negligence but it is far from the company’s only black mark. According to Enbridge’s own reports, between 1999 and 2010, they have been responsible for at least 800 spills that have released close to seven million gallons of heavy crude oil into the environment — or approximately half the amount of oil that spilled from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
Canada has seen its own share of Enbridge heartache, including a 61,000 gallon spill earlier this summer near Elk Point, Alberta.
The National Wildlife Federation report is calling for stronger pipeline safety standards that account for the dangers of transporting bitumen sands oil from Canada amd wants more rigorous reviews of all pipeline projects. The report calls bitumen sands oil “the planet’s dirtiest oil.”
Concerned about Keystone XL pipeline, the advocacy group sent a letter to the Texas House of Representatives, recommending that the state should not wait for US federal rules to prevent tar sands pipeline spills. Public Citizen called the industry’s track record “troubled” and asked the committee to take up legislation that would give Texas broader authority over pipelines.
The committee will examine state regulations governing oil and gas well construction and integrity, as well as pipeline safety and construction, to determine what changes should be made to ensure that the regulations adequately protect the public. Public Citizen will testify in support of stronger rules for the Seaway pipeline (an existing line repurposed to carry tar sands instead of crude oil), the Keystone pipeline (whose southern leg is not yet built) and proposed future tar sands pipelines.
“These companies keep calling it petroleum, but it’s not – these are pipelines of poison,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office.
An ad hoc committee will analyze whether transportation of diluted bitumen (dilbit) by transmission pipeline has an increased risk of release compared with pipeline transportation of other liquid petroleum products. Should the committee determine that increased risk exists, it will complete a comprehensive review of federal hazardous liquid pipeline facility regulations to determine whether they are sufficient to mitigate the increased risk.
Enbridge Northern Gateway has filed thousands of pages of “reply evidence” to the Northern Gateway Joint Review panel, responding to questions from the panel, from government participants like DFO, and intervenors.
In the introduction to the summary of the evidence the JRP asks
Should the fact that Northern Gateway does not respond to all points in a particular intervenor’s evidence or to all intervenor evidence be taken as acceptance by
Northern Gateway of any of the positions of intervenors?
To which Enbridge replies:
No. Northern Gateway does not accept any of the intervenor positions that are contrary tothe Application or additional material filed by Northern Gateway. Some of those positions will be dealt with by Northern Gateway in cross examination and argument rather than reply evidence, and others will simply be left to the JRP to determine on the basis of the filed evidence alone.
Recovery of Biophysical and Human Environment from Oil Spills
Corrosion, Inspection and Maintenance of Oil Tankers
Design and Construction of Oil Tankers
In response to numerous questions about the Marshall, Michigan, oil spill, Enbridge repeats what it said in an e-mail to “community leaders” earlier this week and in this morning’s news release, saying: “Enbridge has made a number of improvements since the Marshall incident.”
As part of the filing Enbridge has also filed an update on its aboriginal engagement program.
There are also detailed and updated reports on the company’s plans for the Kitimat valley region.
The United States National Transportation Safety Board has issued a summary report on the rupture of the the Enbridge pipeline and subsequent oil spill at Marshall, Michigan, in 2010.
The report says that the probable cause of the oil spill included deficient integrity management at Enbridge, which allowed previously known crack defects in corroded areas to spread until the pipeline failed; inadequate training of control center personnel by Enbridge, which allowed the rupture to remain undetected for 17 hours and insufficient public awareness and education, which allowed the release to continue for nearly 14 hours after the first notification of an odor to local emergency response agencies.
The full NTSB report will be issued in the coming weeks.
Enbridge responded in a news release that quoted outgoing Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel, who was in Washington for the release of the report:
“We very much appreciate the patience of residents in the communities who were affected by the Line 6B release,” said Patrick D. Daniel, Chief Executive Officer, Enbridge Inc. “Under the direction of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and local health authorities, the Kalamazoo River was re-opened last month for recreational use. We are also pleased to note that wildlife has returned to the area.”
“We believe that the experienced personnel involved in the decisions made at the time of the release were trying to do the right thing. As with most such incidents, a series of unfortunate events and circumstances resulted in an outcome no one wanted,” said Mr. Daniel.
Skeena Bulkley Valley Member of Parliament and NDP House Leader, Nathan Cullen, issued his own news release, saying, “Today’s report by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) into the deadly July 2010 Enbridge spill in Michigan identifies ‘a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge’ and notes the company knowingly ‘failed to accurately assess the structural integrity of the pipeline.'”
“The findings are actually worse than we feared,” Cullen said. “They are a body blow of breathtaking proportions to Enbridge and yet another wake-up call to the Northwest of the dangers of allowing big oil to run a pipeline through our Northwest watersheds.”
Cullen commended NTSB chair Deborah Hersman for her frankness in terming Enbridge’s Michigan spill “”an accident that is a wake-up call to the industry, the regulator, and the public.”
NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
Public Meeting of July 10, 2012
(Information subject to editing)
This is a synopsis from the National Transportation Safety Board’s report and does not include the NTSB’s rationale for the conclusions, probable cause, and safety recommendations. Safety Board staff is currently making final revisions to the report from which the attached conclusions and safety recommendations have been extracted. The final report and pertinent safety recommendation letters will be distributed to recommendation recipients as soon as possible. The attached information is subject to further review and editing.
On Sunday, July 25, 2010, at 5:58 p.m., eastern daylight time, a segment of a 30-inch-diameter pipeline (Line 6B), owned and operated by Enbridge Incorporated (Enbridge) ruptured in a wetland in Marshall, Michigan. The rupture occurred during the last stages of a planned shutdown and was not discovered or addressed for over 17 hours. During the time lapse, Enbridge twice pumped additional oil (81 percent of the total release) into Line 6B during two startups; the total release was estimated to be 843,444 gallons of crude oil. The oil saturated the surrounding wetlands and flowed into the Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River. Local residents self-evacuated from their houses, and the environment was negatively affected. Cleanup efforts continue as of the adoption date of this report, with continuing costs exceeding $767 million. About 320 people reported symptoms consistent with crude oil exposure. No fatalities were reported.
1. The following were not factors in this accident: cathodic protection, microbial corrosion, internal corrosion, transportation-induced metal fatigue, third-party damage, and pipe manufacturing defects.
2. Insufficient information was available from the postaccident alcohol testing; however, the postaccident drug testing showed that use of illegal drugs was not a factor in the accident.
3. Had the firefighters discovered the ruptured segment of Line 6B and called Enbridge, the two startups of the pipeline might not have occurred and the additional volume might not have been pumped.
4. The Line 6B segment ruptured under normal operating pressure due to corrosion fatigue cracks that grew and coalesced from multiple stress corrosion cracks, which had initiated in areas of external of corrosion beneath the disbonded polyethylene tape coating.
5. Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 195.452(h) does not provide clear requirements regarding when to repair and when to remediate pipeline defects and inadequately defines the requirements for assessing the effect on pipeline integrity when either crack defects or cracks and corrosion are simultaneously present in the pipeline.
6. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) failed to pursue findings from previous inspections and did not require Enbridge Incorporated (Enbridge) to excavate pipe segments with injurious crack defects.
7. Enbridge’s delayed reporting of the “discovery of condition” by more than 460 days indicates that Enbridge’s interpretation of the current regulation delayed the repair of the pipeline.
8. Enbridge’s integrity management program was inadequate because it did not consider the following: a sufficient margin of safety, appropriate wall thickness, tool tolerances, use of a continuous reassessment approach to incorporate lessons learned, the effects of corrosion on crack depth sizing, and accelerated crack growth rates due to corrosion fatigue on corroded pipe with a failed coating.
9. To improve pipeline safety, a uniform and systematic approach in evaluating data for various types of in-line inspection tools is necessary to determine the effect of the interaction of various threats to a pipeline.
10. Pipeline operators should not wait until PHMSA promulgates revisions to 49 Code of Federal Regulations 195.452 before taking action to improve pipeline safety.
11. PII Pipeline Solutions’ analysis of the 2005 in-line inspection data for the Line 6B segment that ruptured mischaracterized crack defects, which resulted in Enbridge not evaluating them as crack-field defects.
12. The ineffective performance of control center staff led them to misinterpret the rupture as a column separation, which led them to attempt two subsequent startups of the line.
13. Enbridge failed to train control center staff in team performance, thereby inadequately preparing the control center staff to perform effectively as a team when effective team performance was most needed.
14. Enbridge failed to ensure that all control center staff had adequate knowledge, skills, and abilities to recognize and address pipeline leaks, and their limited exposure to meaningful leak recognition training diminished their ability to correctly identify the cause of the Material Balance System (MBS) alarms.
15. The Enbridge control center and MBS procedures for leak detection alarms and identification did not fully address the potential for leaks during shutdown and startup, and Enbridge management did not prohibit control center staff from using unapproved procedures.
16. Enbridge’s control center staff placed a greater emphasis on the MBS analyst’s flawed interpretation of the leak detection system’s alarms than it did on reliable indications of a leak, such as zero pressure, despite known limitations of the leak detection system.
17. Enbridge control center staff misinterpreted the absence of external notifications as evidence that Line 6B had not ruptured.
18. Although Enbridge had procedures that required a pipeline shutdown after 10 minutes of uncertain operational status, Enbridge control center staff had developed a culture that accepted not adhering to the procedures.
19. Enbridge’s review of its public awareness program was ineffective in identifying and correcting deficiencies.
20. Had Enbridge operated an effective public awareness program, local emergency response agencies would have been better prepared to respond to early indications of the rupture and may have been able to locate the crude oil and notify Enbridge before control center staff tried to start the line.
21. Although Enbridge quickly isolated the ruptured segment of Line 6B after receiving a telephone call about the release, Enbridge’s emergency response actions during the initial hours following the release were not sufficiently focused on source control and demonstrated a lack of awareness and training in the use of effective containment methods.
22. Had Enbridge implemented effective oil containment measures for fast-flowing waters, the amount of oil that reached Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River could have been reduced.
23. PHMSA’s regulatory requirements for response capability planning do not ensure a high level of preparedness equivalent to the more stringent requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
24. Without specific Federal spill response preparedness standards, pipeline operators do not have response planning guidance for a worst-case discharge.
25. The Enbridge facility response plan did not identify and ensure sufficient resources were available for the response to the pipeline release in this accident.
26. If PHMSA had dedicated the resources necessary and conducted a thorough review of the Enbridge facility response plan, it would have disapproved the plan because it did not adequately provide for response to a worst-case discharge.
27. Enbridge’s failure to exercise effective oversight of pipeline integrity and control center operations, implement an effective public awareness program, and implement an adequate postaccident response were organizational failures that resulted in the accident and increased its severity.
28. Pipeline safety would be enhanced if pipeline companies implemented safety management systems.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determines that the probable cause of the pipeline rupture was corrosion fatigue cracks that grew and coalesced from crack and corrosion defects under disbonded polyethylene tape coating, producing a substantial crude oil release that went undetected by the control center for over 17 hours. The rupture and prolonged release were made possible by pervasive organizational failures at Enbridge Incorporated (Enbridge) that included the following:
Deficient integrity management procedures, which allowed well-documented crack defects in corroded areas to propagate until the pipeline failed.
Inadequate training of control center personnel, which allowed the rupture to remain undetected for 17 hours and through two startups of the pipeline.
Insufficient public awareness and education, which allowed the release to continue for nearly 14 hours after the first notification of an odor to local emergency response agencies.
Contributing to the accident was the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) weak regulation for assessing and repairing crack indications, as well as PHMSA’s ineffective oversight of pipeline integrity management programs, control center procedures, and public awareness.
Contributing to the severity of the environmental consequences were (1) Enbridge’s failure to identify and ensure the availability of well-trained emergency responders with sufficient response resources, (2) PHMSA’s lack of regulatory guidance for pipeline facility response planning, and (3) PHMSA’s limited oversight of pipeline emergency preparedness that led to the approval of a deficient facility response plan.
To the U.S. Secretary of Transportation:
1. Audit the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s onshore pipeline facility response plan program’s business practices, including reviews of response plans and drill programs, and take appropriate action to correct deficiencies.
2. Allocate sufficient resources as necessary to ensure that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s onshore pipeline facility response plan program meets all of the requirements of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.
To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:
3. Revise Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 195.452 to clearly state (1) when an engineering assessment of crack defects, including environmentally assisted cracks, must be performed; (2) the acceptable methods for performing these engineering assessments, including the assessment of cracks coinciding with corrosion with a safety factor that considers the uncertainties associated with sizing of crack defects; (3) criteria for determining when a probable crack defect in a pipeline segment must be excavated and time limits for completing those excavations; (4) pressure restriction limits for crack defects that are not excavated by the required date; and (5) acceptable methods for determining crack growth for any cracks allowed to remain in the pipe, including growth caused by fatigue, corrosion fatigue, or stress corrosion cracking as applicable.
4. Revise Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 195.452(h)(2), the “discovery of condition,” to require, in cases where a determination about pipeline threats has not been obtained within 180 days following the date of inspection, that pipeline operators notify the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and provide an expected date when adequate information will become available.
5. Conduct a comprehensive inspection of Enbridge Incorporated’s integrity management program after it is revised in accordance with Safety Recommendation (11).
6. Issue an advisory to all hazardous liquid and natural gas pipeline operators describing the circumstances of the accident in Marshall, Michigan—including the deficiencies observed in Enbridge Incorporated’s integrity management program—and ask them to take appropriate action to eliminate similar deficiencies.
7. Develop requirements for team training of control center staff involved in pipeline operations similar to those used in other transportation modes.
8. Extend operator qualification requirements in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 195 Subpart G to all hazardous liquid and gas transmission control center staff involved in pipeline operational decisions.
9. Amend Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations Part 194 to harmonize onshore oil pipeline response planning requirements with those of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for facilities that handle and transport oil and petroleum products to ensure that pipeline operators have adequate resources available to respond to worst-case discharges.
10. Issue an advisory bulletin to notify pipeline operators (1) of the circumstances of the Marshall, Michigan, pipeline accident, and (2) of the need to identify deficiencies in facility response plans and to update these plans as necessary to conform with the nonmandatory guidance for determining and evaluating required response resources as provided in Appendix A of Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 194, “Guidelines for the Preparation of Response Plans.”
To Enbridge Incorporated:
11. Revise your integrity management program to ensure the integrity of your hazardous liquid pipelines as follows: (1) implement, as part of the excavation selection process, a safety margin that conservatively takes into account the uncertainties associated with the sizing of crack defects from in-line inspections; (2) implement procedures that apply a continuous reassessment approach to immediately incorporate any new relevant information as it becomes available and reevaluate the integrity of all pipelines within the program; (3) develop and implement a methodology that includes local corrosion wall loss in addition to the crack depth when performing engineering assessments of crack defects coincident with areas of corrosion; and (4) develop and implement a corrosion fatigue model for pipelines under cyclic loading that estimates growth rates for cracks that coincide with areas of corrosion when determining reinspection intervals.
12. Establish a program to train control center staff as teams, semiannually, in the recognition of and response to emergency and unexpected conditions that includes supervisory control and data acquisition system indications and Material Balance System software.
13. Incorporate changes to your leak detection processes to ensure that accurate leak detection coverage is maintained during transient operations, including pipeline shutdown, pipeline startup, and column separation.
14. Provide additional training to first responders to ensure that they (1) are aware of the best response practices and the potential consequences of oil releases and (2) receive practical training in the use of appropriate oil-containment and -recovery methods for all potential environmental conditions in the response zones.
15. Review and update your oil pipeline emergency response procedures and equipment resources to ensure that appropriate containment equipment and methods are available to respond to all environments and at all locations along the pipeline to minimize the spread of oil from a pipeline rupture.
16. Update your facility response plan to identify adequate resources to respond to and mitigate a worst-case discharge for all weather conditions and for all your pipeline locations before the required resubmittal in 2015.
To the American Petroleum Institute:
17. Facilitate the development of a safety management system standard specific to the pipeline industry that is similar in scope to your Recommended Practice 750, Management of Process Hazards. The development should follow established American National Standards Institute requirements for standard development.
To the Pipeline Research Council International, Inc.:
18. Conduct a review of various in-line inspection tools and technologies—including, but not limited to: tool tolerance, the probability of detection, and the probability of identification—and provide a model with detailed step-by-step procedures to pipeline operators for evaluating the effect of interacting corrosion and crack threats on the integrity of pipelines.
To the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Emergency Number Association:
19. Inform your members about the circumstances of the Marshall, Michigan, pipeline accident and urge your members to aggressively and diligently gather from pipeline operators system-specific information about the pipeline systems in their communities and jurisdictions.
Previous Recommendation Reiterated in this Report
To the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration:
Require operators of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines and hazardous liquid pipelines to provide system-specific information about their pipeline systems to the emergency response agencies of the communities and jurisdictions in which those pipelines are located. This information should include pipe diameter, operating pressure, product transported, and potential impact radius. (P-11-8)
The complete report will appear on ntsb.gov in several weeks.
In its response, Enbridge went on to say:
“Safety has always been core to our operations. Our intent from the beginning of this incident has been to learn from it so we can prevent it from happening again, and to also share what we have learned with other pipeline operators,” said Stephen J. Wuori, President, Liquids Pipelines, Enbridge Inc. “Enbridge and EEP conducted a detailed internal investigation of this incident in the months following the release and have made numerous enhancements to their processes, procedures and training as a result of the findings of the investigation, including in the control center. Incident prevention, detection and response have also been enhanced. We will carefully examine the findings in the NTSB report to determine whether any further adjustments are appropriate.”
Enbridge says it has e worked closely and cooperatively with the NTSB throughout its investigation. The company isnow reviewing the summary report and will not comment specifically on the contents of the Final Report until it is released by the NTSB Board and analysis of the report has been completed.
The Haisla Nation has confirmed in a filing with the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel that it opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway project.
The document, filed June 29, 2012, is one of the most significant filed with the JRP during all the years of the debate over the controversial Northern Gateway, setting out a three stage process that will govern, whether Enbridge or the federal government like it or not, the future of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
First, the Haisla Nation affirms that it opposes the Northern Gateway project
Second, the Haisla Nation is demanding that the federal government, in recognition of aboriginal rights and title, reject the Northern Gateway project on Haisla traditional territory.
Third, probably anticipating that Stephen Harper and his government will attempt to force the Northern Gateway on British Columbia, the Haisla are demanding meaningful consultation and set out a stringent set of minimum conditions for the project on Haisla traditional territory.
The Haisla also say that there already projects that are better suited to their traditional territory, the liquified natural gas projects.
The Haisla position that Ottawa must reject the pipeline if First Nations oppose it is the opening round in the constitutional battle over not just the pipeline, but entire question of aboriginal rights and title. So far the government of Stephen Harper has said that First Nations do not have a “veto” on the pipeline and terminal project.
In the filing with the Joint Review panel, the Haisla outline nine reasons for opposition to the Northern Gateway project:
1. Northern Gateway is proposing to site its project in a location that places at risk the ecological integrity of a large portion and significant aspects of Haisla Nation Territory and resources.
2. All three aspects of the proposed project – the pipelines, the marine terminal and tankers – have the potential to impact Haisla Nation lands, waters and resources.
3. Northern Gateway has neither conducted sufficient due diligence nor provided sufficient information with respect to the assessment of a number of critical aspects of the proposed project, including but not limited to project design, impacts, risks, accidents and malfunctions, spill response, potential spill consequences and the extent, degree and duration of any significant adverse environmental effects.
4. There are significant risks of spills of diluted bitumen, synthetic crude, and condensate from corrosion, landslide hazards, seismic events along the pipeline route and at the terminal site; as well asloss of cargo or service fuels from tanker accidents, with no realistic plan provided for spill containment, cleanup, habitat restoration or regeneration of species dependent on the affected habitat.
5. Diluted bitumen, synthetic crude and condensate are all highly toxic to the environment and living systems and the consequences and effects of a spill could be devastating on the resources that support the Haisla Nation way of life, and would therefore have significant adverse effects on Haisla Nation culture and cultural heritage and aboriginal rights.
6. Risk assessments and technology have not overcome the potential for human error, wherein it is well established that 80% of oil tanker accidents that cause oil spills at sea are a result of human errors: badly handled manoeuvres, neglected maintenance, insufficient checking of systems, lack of communication between crew members, fatigue, or an inadequate response to a minor incident
causing it to escalate into a major accident often resulting in groundings and collisions (http://www.black-tides.com/uk/source/oil-tanker-accidents/causes-accidents.php). It has also become increasingly obvious that maintenance of pipeline integrity and the remote detection of pipeline ruptures is inadequate as exemplified by major environmental damage from recent pipeline ruptures in Michigan and Alberta.
7. The proposed project requires the alienation of Haisla Nation aboriginal title land, and the federal government has refused to engage in consultation with the Haisla Nation about the potential impacts of the proposed project on Haisla Nation aboriginal rights, including aboriginal title.
8. The proposed project would require the use of Haisla Nation aboriginal title land for a purpose that is inconsistent with Haisla Nation stewardship principles and with the Haisla Nation’s own aspirations for this land.
9. For the reasons set out above, the proposed project would constitute an unjustified infringement of Haisla Nation aboriginal title and rights. It would therefore be illegal for the Crown to authorize the project.
Canada is obliged to decline approval of the project
Up until now, the federal government has refused to engage First Nations in the northwestern region over the issue of the Northern Gateway pipeline and terminal, saying that the constitutionally mandated consultation will take place after the Joint Review Panel has released its report. However, the government’s Bill C-38, which gives the federal cabinet (actually the prime minister) the power to decide the pipeline means that the JRP report will be less significant than it would have been before the Conservatives gained a majority government in May, 2010.
The Haisla say the nation has “repeatedly requested early engagement by federal government decision-makers to develop, together with the Haisla Nation, a meaningful process for consultation and accommodation in relation to the proposed project.”
The filing says JRP and “the federal government’s ‘Aboriginal Consultation Framework’ have been imposed on the Haisla Nation and other First Nations, with significant aspects of the concerns expressed by the Haisla Nation about this approach being ignored.”
The Haisla says it “continues to seek a commitment from the federal government to the joint development of a meaningful process to assess the proposed project and its potential impacts on Haisla Nation aboriginal rights, including aboriginal title.”
Later in the filing the Haisla say:
The Haisla Nation has… repeatedly asked federal decision-makers to commit to the joint development of a meaningful consultation process with the Haisla Nation. The federal Crown decision-makers have made it very clear that they have no intention of meeting with the Haisla Nation until the Joint Review Panel’s review of the proposed project is complete…
The federal Crown has failed to provide any clarity, however, about what procedural aspects of consultation it has delegated to Northern Gateway. Northern Gateway has not consulted with the Haisla Nation and has not advised the Haisla Nation that Canada has delegated any aspects of the consultation process.
The Haisla then go on to say:
Canada is legally required to work with the Haisla Nation to develop and follow such a process. If the process establishes that the approval of the proposed project would constitute an unjustified infringement of Haisla Nation aboriginal rights or aboriginal title, then Canada would be legally obliged to decline approval.
Deficiencies and Conditions
Enbridge asked the Haisla that if there are conditions of approval that would nonetheless
address, in whole or in part, the Nation’s concerns; and then asked for details “on the nature of any conditions that the Haisla Nation would suggest be imposed on the Project, should it be approved.”
The Haisla reply that because there are “significant deficiencies in the evidence provided by Northern Gateway to date.” The nation goes on to say that “the acknowledged risks that have not been adequately addressed in the proposed project.” The Haisla Nation then says it “does not foresee any conditions that could be attached to the project as currently conceived and presented that would eliminate the Haisla Nation’s concerns.”
The Haisla then repeat that Enbridge has not provided sufficient information so that
it is difficult for the Haisla Nation to identify conditions to attach to the proposed project as it is still trying to fully understand the potential impacts of the project and the proposed mitigation. This is primarily because there is insufficient information provided by Northern Gateway in its application material.
Although we have attempted to elicit additional information through the JRP’s information request process, Northern Gateway has not provide adequate and complete answers to the questions posed.
The Haisla then anticipate that Stephen Harper will force the pipeline and terminal on British Columbia and say:
Nevertheless, if the project were to be approved AFTER the Crown meaningfully
consulted and accommodated the Haisla Nation with respect to the impacts of
the proposed project on its aboriginal title and rights, and if that consultation were
meaningful yet did not result in changes to the proposed project, the following
conditions would, at a minimum, have to be attached to the project.
The emphasis of the word “after” is in the original document.
The document that then goes on to present an extensive list of list of conditions the Haisla believe should be imposed on the Enbridge Northern Gateway if the project goes ahead.
The conditions include comprehensive monitoring of water quality, fisheries, wildlife and birds, vegetation throughout the Kitimat River watershed, Kitimat Arm and Douglas Channel; development of comprehensive spill response capability throughout the Kitimat River Valley, Kitmat Arm and Douglas Channel.
The Haisla also want soil and erosion control plans; water management plans; control and storage plans for fuels, lubricants and other potential contaminants; detailed plans for equipment deployment and habitat reclamation of disturbed or cleared areas.
The Haisla also want much more detailed studies before any construction, including analysis of terrain stability and slide potential throughout the pipeline corridor and at the storage tank and terminal site; engineering designs to mitigate seismic risk and local weather extremes; development of pipeline integrity specifications and procedures including best practices for leak detection; storage tank integrity specifications, maintenance and monitoring; assessment of spill containment, spill response and spill capacity requirements throughout the Kitimat River watershed, Kitimat Arm and Douglas Channel.
On tankers the Haisla want more details beyond the plans already filed by Enbridge including
detailed tanker specifications, detailed tanker and tug traffic management procedures; detailed port management specifications and procedures including operating limits for tanker operation, movement and docking.
The Haisla are also demanding “on going consultation” on all issues involved by the National Energy Board prior to any decision on any changes to or sign off on conditions and commitments to any certificate that is issued.
The Haisla want an independent third party be part of a committee to oversee the construction proecess to monitor certificate compliance during construction of the marine terminal and the pipeline.
Once the pipeline and terminal operational, the Haisla want conditions imposed on the project that include ongoing monitoring of the terrain along the pipeline, a system that would automatically shut down the pipeline shutdown whenever a leak detection alarm occurs.
The Hasila want conditions “on the disposal of any contamination that must be removed as
a result of an accident or malfunction resulting in a spill that will minimize additional habitat destruction and maximize the potential for regeneration of habitat and resources damaged by the spill.”
As well as more detailed parameters for the tankers, tugs, and pilotage procedures, the Haisla want approval of any future changes in those procedures.
The Haisla are also concerned about the “alienation” of a large area of their traditional territory by the construction of the Northern Gateway project as well as the “additional infrastructure” required by adequate spill response capability and spill response equipment cache sites.
The Haisla say “all of the land alienations required for the proposed project would profoundly
infringe Haisla Nation aboriginal title which is, in effect, a constitutionally protected ownership right” and goes on to say “proposed project would use Haisla Nation aboriginal title land in a way that is inconsistent with Haisla Nation stewardship of its lands, waters and resources and with the Haisla Nation’s own aspirations for the use of this land.”
The Haisla filing then goes on to say:
Since aboriginal title is a constitutionally protected right to use the aboriginal title land for the purposes the Haisla Nation sees fit, this adverse use would fundamentally infringe the aboriginal title of the Haisla Nation.
The report also expresses concerns about the ongoing socio-economic affects of such a large project.
It concludes by saying:
These issues are important. They go to the very heart of Haisla Nation culture.
They go to the Haisla Nation relationship with the lands, waters, and resources of
its Territory. A major spill from the pipeline at the marine terminal or from a
tanker threatens to sever us from or damage our lifestyle built on harvesting and
gathering seafood and resources throughout our Territory.
Northern Gateway proposes a pipeline across numerous tributaries to the Kitimat
River. A spill into these watercourses is likely to eventually occur. The evidence
before the Panel shows that pipeline leaks or spills occur with depressing
One of Enbridge’s own experiences, when it dumped 3,785,400 liters of diluted
bitumen into the Kalamazoo River, shows that the concern of a spill is real and
not hypothetical. A thorough understanding of this incident is critical to the
current environmental assessment since diluted bitumen is what Northern
Gateway proposes to transport. However, nothing was provided in the application
materials to address the scope of impact, the level of effort required for cleanup
and the prolonged effort required to restore the river. An analysis of this incident
would provide a basis for determining what should be in place to maintain
pipeline integrity as well as what should be in place locally to respond to any spill.
The Kalamazoo spill was aggravated by an inability to detect the spill, by an
inability to respond quickly and effectively, and by an inability to predict the fate
of the diluted bitumen in the environment. As a result, the Kalamazoo River has
suffered significant environmental damage. The long-term cumulative
environmental damage from this spill is yet to be determined.
Looking to the future, the Haisla are also asking for a plan for the eventual decommissioning of the project, pointing out that “ Northern Gateway has not provided information on decommissioning that is
detailed enough to allow the Haisla Nation to set out all its concerns about the
potential impacts from decommissioning at this point in time.”
Haisla leaders have already expressed concern about the legacy of the Eurocan paper plant. Now it tells Enbridge
This is not good enough. The Haisla Nation needs to know how Northern Gateway proposes to undertake decommissioning, what the impacts will be, and that there will be financial security in place to ensure this is done properly.
Asserts aboriginal title
The section of the report concludes by saying:
The Haisla Nation asserts aboriginal title to its Territory. Since the essence of
aboriginal title is the right of the aboriginal title holder to use land according to its
own discretion, Haisla Nation aboriginal title entails a constitutionally protected
ability of the Haisla Nation to make decisions concerning land and resource use
within Haisla Nation Territory. Any government decision concerning lands,
waters, and resource use within Haisla Nation Territory that conflicts with a
Haisla lands, waters or resources use decision is only valid to the extent that the
government can justify this infringement of Haisla Nation aboriginal title.
The Supreme Court of Canada has established that infringements of aboriginal
title can only be justified if there has been, in the case of relatively minor
infringements, consultation with the First Nation. Most infringements will require
something much deeper than consultation if the infringement is to be justified.
The Supreme Court has noted that in certain circumstances the consent of the
aboriginal nation may be required. Further, compensation will ordinarily be
required if an infringement of aboriginal title is to be justified [Delgamuukw].
The Haisla then go on to say that the preferred use of the land in question is for the liquified natural gas projects:
The Haisla Nation has a chosen use for the proposed terminal site. This land
was selected in the Haisla Nation’s treaty land offer submitted to British Columbia
and Canada in 2005, as part of the BC Treaty Negotiation process, as lands
earmarked for Haisla Nation economic development.
The Haisla Nation has had discussions with the provincial Crown seeking to
acquire these lands for economic development purposes for a liquefied natural
gas project. The Haisla Nation has had discussions with potential partners about
locating a liquefied natural gas facility on the site that Northern Gateway
proposes to acquire for the marine terminal. The Haisla Nation sees these lands
as appropriate for a liquefied natural gas project as such a project is not nearly
as detrimental to the environment as a diluted bitumen export project.
Northwest Coast Energy News is attempting to contact Enbridge Northern Gateway for comment on the Haisla filing. Response may be delayed by the Canada Day holiday.
Enbridge is striking back against the First Nations and intervenors who oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline and marine terminal projects by filing questions that those groups must answer as part of the Joint Review Process.
On May 11, 2012, Enbridge filed questions with 24 organizations, and from the questions, it appears that Enbridge isn’t just building a strictly legal case in their favour but are preparing to try and discredit opponents.
Enbridge’s questions are part of the legal process. For months, First Nations and intervenors have been filing a whole series of questions asking for clarification of items in the Enbridge’s filings on the project with Joint Review Process and Enbridge has the legal right to ask the First Nations and intervenors to clarify their positions.
However, the difference is that Enbridge is a giant corporation which can afford to spend millions of dollars on both the approval process as well as the current nationwide advertising process, while some of the intervenors are made up of volunteers or retirees working on their own time. Sources among the intervenors have been saying for months that they believe that Enbridge is following a perceived policy of working to wear down the opponents so much they burn out and drop out of the process.
A large proportion of the questions Enbridge is demanding that First Nations and intervenors answer are overtly political, rather than technical responses to their filings.
In an apparent escalation of its campaign against its opponents, Enbridge is using the Joint Review process to ask intervenors about funding, naming such hot button organizations such as Tides Canada, which is under attack by the Harper government. Enbridge is also questioning the “academic credentials” of numerous intervenors and commenters, even though the Joint Review Panel has spent most of the past seven months asking people to comment based on “local knowledge,” leaving the technical questions to the documents filed with the JRP
Some key questions directed at both the Haisla and Wet’suwet’en First Nations seem to indicate that Enbridge is preparing to build both a legal and probably a public relations case questioning the general, but not unanimous support for liquified natural gas projects in northwestern BC, by saying “Why not Northern Gateway,” as seen in this question to the Haisla Nation.
Please advise as to whether similar measures would be requested by the Haisla First Nation to deal with construction-related impacts of the Northern Gateway Project.
A series of questions to the coalition known as the Coastal First Nations questions the often heard assertion that an oil spill on the BC coast is “inevitable,” and Enbridge appears to be prepared to argue that spills are not inevitable. Enbridge asks Coastal First Nations about a study that compared the bitumen that could be shipped along the coast with the proposed LNG projects.
Please provide all environmental and risk assessment studies, including studies of “Black Swan” events, conducted by the Coastal First Nations or any of its members in respect of the LNG projects referred to.
Enbridge is referring to Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s now widely known “theory of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance and technology.”
It is Black Swan events that most of the people of the northwest coast fear when it comes to all the major energy projects, but if as Taleb says they are hard-to-predict and rare, how can the studies Enbridge is requesting actually predict those disasters?
Enbridge’s questions to the Haisla Nation runs for 28 pages and many of those questions are political, not technical, including asking for details of the Haisla support for the various Kitimat liquified natural gas projects and who may be funding the Haisla participation in the Joint Review Process. Many technical questions around the questions of “acceptable risk” and it appears, despite the fact Enbridge officials have listened to the Haisla official presentation at Kitamaat Village last January and the speeches of Haisla members this week at the pubic comment hearings, that Enbridge is preparing to use a paper-based or Alberta-based concept of acceptable risk as opposed to listening to the First Nation that will be most directly affected by any disaster in the Kitimat harbour or estuary.
A series of questions seems to negate Enbridge’s claim that it has the support of many First Nations along the pipeline route because Enbridge is asking for details of agreements that First Nations have reached with the Pacific Trails Pipeline. Enbridge has consistently refused to release a list of the First Nations it claims has agreements with the company, but in the questions filed with the JRP, Enbridge is asking for details of agreements First Nations in northern BC have reached with the Pacific Trails Pipeline.
For example, while Enbridge is refusing to name all the backers of the pipeline for reasons of corporate confidentiality, the company is asking who may be funding the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in its appearances before the Joint Review Panel, including the US-based foundations named by right-wing blogger Vivian Krause, (note Krause recently declared victory and suspended her blog) right-wing columnists and the Harper cabinet:
Please confirm that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has received participant funding from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to participate in the Joint Review Panel (“JRP”) proceeding.
Please advise as to the amount of participant funding received to date from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
Please advise whether or not the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has received funding within the
last 5 years from Tides Canada, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, or any other similar foundations, to oppose the Northern Gateway Project or to oppose oil sands projects in general.
If so, please provide the amount of funding received from each foundation.
In the case of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Enbridge is asking for details, including a membership list.
Please provide a description of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Does the Raincoast Conservation Foundation prepare Annual Reports? If so, please provide the most recently published Annual report available.
If the Raincoast Conservation Foundation is a collection of like-minded individuals, please list its members.
Did the Raincoast Conservation Foundation apply for and receive participant funding in this proceeding? If so, how much was received?
While many of Enbridge’s question to the RainCoast Foundation are technical, the company which is currently conducting a multi-million dollar public relations campaign in favour of the pipeline, asks:
Please confirm that the “What’s at Stake? study” was prepared for use as a public relations tool, to advocate against approval of the Northern Gateway.
Enbridge also appears to be gearing up for personal attacks on two of the most vocal members of Kitimat’s Douglas Channel Watch, Murray Minchin and Cheryl Brown, who have been appearing regularly before District of Kitimat council to oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline.
On Murray Minchin, Enbridge asks:
Written Evidence Regarding Proposed Liquid Petroleum Pipelines from the proposed Nimbus Mountain West Portal to the Kitimat River Estuary submitted by Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch…. Supplemental Written Evidence Photographic Evidence Regarding Proposed Liquid Petroleum Pipelines from Nimbus Mountain to the Kitimat River Estuary submitted by Murray Minchin of Douglas Channel Watch….
Mr. Minchin provides extensive opinion relative to geotechnical and other technical matters. Request: Please provide Mr. Minchin’s curriculum vitae which includes his education, training and employment history, to demonstrate his qualifications to provide geotechnical and other technical opinions that appear….
Minchin is one of Enbridge’s strongest opponents in Kitimat and in his various appearances (the latest at the anti-Enbridge demonstration in Kitimat on Sunday, June 24, 2012, Minchin has told the audiences that he is self-taught and has spent much of his spare time over the past few years studying the documents Enbridge has filed with the JRP.
As for Cheryl Brown, a vocal critic of the Enbridge Community Advisory Board process, Enbridge has filed a long series of questions about her involvement with the CAB, including asking how many meetings she has attended (see document below)
Two of Enbridge’s questions about Brown stand out
Has Ms. Brown offered a suggestion for a speaker that would have provided a differing viewpoint from those of Northern Gateway?
Many people in Kitimat, not just the outspoken members of Douglas Channel Watch, say they do not trust the Community Advisory Board process. When the CAB held a meeting recently to discuss marine safety, a meeting that was heavily advertised in Kitimat Terrace area, the CAB facilitators ( from a Vancouver -based company) attempted to bar the media, including this reporter, from this “public” meeting, until apparently overruled by Enbridge’s own pubic relations staff. On the other hand, everytime Douglas Channel Watch has appeared before the District of Kitimat Council to request a public forum on Gateway issues, DCW has always insisted that Enbridge be invited to any forum, along with DCW and independent third parties.
Ms. Brown states that Enbridge has not addressed the hard questions. Please confirm that Northern Gateway responded to questions put forth by the Douglas Channel Watch in Letters to the Editor in both the Kitimat Northern Sentinel and Terrace Standard in August of 2009.
Here Enbridge appears to be basing its case on one letter to the editor that appeared in local papers three years ago. During the public comment hearings that the JRP held at Kitamaat Village earlier this week, numerous people testified time and time again that Enbridge was failing to answer major questions about the pipeline and terminal, by saying that those questions would be answered later, once the project is approved.
In one series of questions, Enbridge is demanding a professional level database from the Kitimat Valley Naturalists, the local birdwatching group. Quoting a submission by the naturalists group, Enbridge asks
Paragraph 2.2, indicates that the Kitimat Valley Naturalists has birding records for the estuary for over 40 years and that Kitimat Valley Naturalists visits the estuary at least 100 times per year.
Paragraph 2.3 indicates the Kitimat Valley Naturalists have local expertise in birds of the Kitimat River estuary as well as other plants and animals that utilize those habitats.
Request: To contribute to baseline information for the Kitimat River estuary and facilitate a detailed and comprehensive environmental monitoring strategy, please provide the long term database of marine birds in and adjacent to the Kitimat River estuary, with a focus on data collected by the Kitimat Valley Naturalists in recent years, and where possible, the methodology or survey design, dates, weather and assumptions for the data collection.
Today the Kitimat Valley Naturalists, three local retirees, Walter Thorne, Dennis Horwood and April Macleod filed this response with the JRP:
Northern Gateway has specifically requested the long-term database of birds occurring over many years within the Kitimat River Estuary. The data we have collected includes monthly British Columbia Coastal Water Survey (BC CWS) and yearly Christmas Bird Counts (CBC). The data from
these bird counts are available on the web or in print form.
For access to BC CWS enter http://www.bsc-eoc.org
For access to CBC data, enter http://birds.audubon.org
Historical results for CBC counts have also been published by the journal American Birds. The earliest CBC count for Kitimat was 1974.
In regard to the long-term database, we have significant numbers of records for the foreshore of the Kitimat River Estuary. The number increases when the larger estuary perimeter is considered. These cover a 40-year period with the majority in the last 20 years. We would be willing to provide this information in a meaningful format.
The Kitimat Valley Naturalists, however, lack the expertise or financial ability to convert the data into a format that would address Northern Gateway’s interest in methodology, survey design, dates, weather, and assumptions for data collection.
Alternatively, we do have access to a consulting firm, which is willing to analyze our data and convert it to a useable and practical design. We assume, since this is a considerable undertaking in both time and cost, that Northern Gateway would be willing to cover the associated fees.
We look forward to hearing back from Northern Gateway and pursuing this with a budget proposal.
Northwest Coast Energy News consulted data management experts who estimated that complying with the Enbridge request would likely cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
Some Wet’suwet’en houses have opposed the Pacific Trails Pipeline, and while negotiations with Apache Corporation are continuing, Enbridge is asking the First Nation for details of what is happening with that pipeline.
Is it the position of the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that each First Nation whose traditional territory is traversed by the proposed pipeline has a veto on whether it is approved or refused?
Please confirm that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en opposed approval of the Pacific Trails Pipeline (also known as the Kitimat Summit Lake Looping Project).
Does the Office of the Wet’suwet’en continue to oppose construction of the Pacific Trails Pipeline?
Have the First Nations who are proposing to participate as equity owners in the Pacific Trails Pipeline Project advised the Office of the Wet’suwet’en that they accept that the Office of the Wet’suwet’en has a right to veto approval and construction of that Project?
Please confirm that the First Nations holding an equity ownership position or entitlement in the Pacific Trails Pipeline Project (also known as the Kitimat-Summit Lake Looping Project) include:
• Haisla First Nation
•Kitselas First Nation
•Lax Kw’alaams Band
•Lheidli T’enneh Band
•McLeod Lake Indian Band
•Metlakatla First Nation
•Nadleh Whut’en First Nation
•Nee Tahi Buhn Band
•Saik’uz First Nation
•Skin Tyee First Nation
•Stellat’en First Nation
•Ts’il Kaz Koh First Nation
•West Moberly First Nation
•Wet’suwet’en First Nation
The majority of questions filed with the Coast First Nations are technical challenges to studies filed by the coalition. Enbridge also filed questions with the Gitga’at, Gitxaala, Heiltsuk Nations and the Metis Nation of Alberta.
(Disclosure: The author, who is also a photographer, sometimes accompanies members of the Kitimat Valley Naturalists to photograph birds during the time they are doing the counts)
“This will be the first project in Canadian history to have First Nations, environmentalists and, for a lack of a better term, rednecks standing together in protest,” that sentence from Katherina Ouwehand summed up the first day of public comment testimony Monday, June 25, 2012, as the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel returned to the Haisla Recreation Centre at Kitamaat Village.
Ten minutes isn’t that long. Ten minutes is the time that the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel gives a member of the public to express their opinion on the controversial Enbridge project that would pipe oil sands bitumen from Alberta through the port of Kitimat to Asia.
Ten minutes is sufficient if you know what you’re talking about, if you’ve done your homework and rehearsed presentation so it can comes in right on time.
Ten minutes can be eternity if you’re an Enbridge official sitting silently at a nearby table as people who do know what they’re saying tear apart your public presentations, your multi-million dollar ads and the thousands of pages the company has filed with the Joint Review Panel. Or perhaps, as some at the public comment hearings pointed out, those ten minutes mean little if Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already decided the pipeline will go ahead no matter what, and thus any recommendation from the JRP has little credibility.
The first witness to appear before the public comment hearings on Monday afternoon was someone who knows all about the role of human error in accidents, Manny Aruda, an Emergency Response Team leader at the Rio Tinto Alcan smelter.
Aruda began by commenting, “To be clear, I do not belong to any environmental or radical organization, although I do recycle and occasionally I do eat granola.” His responsibilities at RTA include overseeing anything related to an emergency response, including dealing with spills and reporting the spills. Before that he worked at Methanex first in operations as a field operator and then as an ammonia control room operator. He also volunteers as a Search Manager for Kitimat Search and Rescue.
Talking about his time in the control room at Methanex, Aruda said, “I worked in the state-of-the-art chemical plant which is constantly being updated with the newest instrumentation. No matter how many safety features are in place, human error could supersede. Incorrect wires were cut causing plants to shut down; drain lines were left open during start-up causing methanol to go into the effluent system and eventually into the ocean; pigs [robots that operate inside pipes] are used to clean pipelines that were supposed to be collected at the end of a line at the wharf, and over-pressurizing of the line and mental error, leaving a valve open and the next thing you know pigs really do fly right into the ocean.
“Enbridge has spoken many times about how they’ll use smart pigs. Perhaps their smart pigs will know when to put the brakes on and stop.
Humans weak link
“The bottom line is that no matter what state-of-the-art infrastructure, instrumentation, safety
measures are in place human decisions or lack of decisions will affect the outcome. Humans are the weak link.
“There is an enormous pressure from management to keep plants and pipelines running. Control room operators are most at risk on start-ups and shutdowns, when conditions are changing rapidly. When a suspected issue arises it requires interpretation and analytical skills. These skills are relative to the amount of knowledge and experience of the individual.
“When in the control room you can’t see, hear or smell what’s going on outside, this is why the field operator is so valuable and utilized to go out in the field to verify a level, check a pump status, a pressure reading, identify leaks, et cetera.
Despite what some people may believe, it’s not black and white. There’s not a red Staples easy button flashing indicating that a spill is happening.
“When in the control room you can’t see, hear or smell what’s going on outside, this is why the field operator is so valuable and utilized to go out in the field to verify a level, check a pump status, a pressure reading, identify leaks… Despite what some people may believe, it’s not black and white. There’s not a red Staples easy button flashing indicating that a spill is happening.”
Any deviation from normal operations is subject to interpretation by the control room operator, “a human, the weak link,” Aruda said. He added: “Industry can continue to make improvements and make things more and more idiot-proof. History has shown that better idiots will come along.”
He told the JRP that the long Northern Gateway pipeline through remote mountain passes would have no field operators available to check every kilometre of the line to verify what the control room operator thinks is happening.
Like other witnesses, Aruda pointed to the Enbridge spill at Marshall, Michigan, where four million litres were spilled into a river in a populated area. “The spill went unnoticed due to human error,
the weak link.”
He testified that he has spent “hundreds of hours looking at Enbridge’s risk assessment,
management of spills, emergency response,” and then he said from the point of view of an
emergency response team leader, “reading these documents has flabbergasted me.” He said Enbridge’s risk management was “seriously deficient and woefully lacking in substance. They do not take into consideration the rugged terrain, the climatic conditions and dangers of fast flowing moving water.”
He said Talmadge Creek that feeds the Kalamazoo River, the location of the spill in Michigan, flows at much slower rate than the Kitimat River. At Kalamazoo, he said, four million litre oil spill moved 39 miles downstream contaminating everything in its path and it was contained two days later.
“It took Enbridge two days to deal with a meandering Kalamazoo River spill. Enbridge has stated in their risk assessment and management of spills they can contain a spill in the Kitimat River within two to four hours. This is irresponsible and inaccurate statement with no associated details.
It rains a lot in Kitimat
“To be fair, the Marshall spill happened at the worst possible time when the Kalamazoo River flows were at flood stage, causing oil to be deposited high on marshes and banks. This caused widespread contamination in the area. The Kitimat area also has high periods of flows and flood stages. It’s called, May, June, September, October and November. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but it rains here, a lot.
“In a worst-case scenario for the Kitimat River, Aruda said, based on events of September 2011, “heavy rain caused a dramatic increase in river levels within 24 hours. This is a normal occurrence. And the river widens by 75 yards in some locations. I have personally witnessed tree after tree, including 100 foot trees with full root balls 20-feet in diameter barrelling down this river. The Kitimat River flow at that time, 72,000 cubic feet a second, [was] some 18 times more than the Kalamazoo River. There’s not one qualified incident commander that would even consider sending out emergency responders into that raging river.”
He said that even during a moderate rise of the river, booms are not effective because of all the debris floating down the river.
Aruda said, “I invite anyone who thinks this oil spill can be cleaned up effectively to drift down the river with me to see for themselves how impossible a task that would be.” He noted that Enbridge has spent $765 million in clean-up costs, and while some parts of the Kalamazoo River have recently been opend for recreational use, other parts remain closed for clean-up.
He repeated his belief that Enbridge’s response plans are insufficient and concluded by saying, “Other pipelines and transmission lines have succumbed to the forces of nature in this area without any long-term environmental impacts. Sadly, this will not be the case if oil spills here.”
A later witness was Terry Brown, a former project engineer at Eurocan. Brown began by describing his love for sailing the Douglas Channel for the past 28 years. In one instance, Brown said, “ One extra-special night was when the ocean waters were disturbed and the phosphorescence was a glow like fireworks. We were seldom alone on the water as we often saw, heard and smelled seals, sea lions, orcas, and humpback whales, just like a huge aquarium but all to our own and so secluded.
“We not only stayed on the surface but some of our family engaged in scuba diving. What a joy to see so much life, crabs, fish, and shrimp, sea anemones, sea lions and much more. What a gorgeous dive it was as our daughter Stacy and I went down deep on the wall at Coste Rocks to see many different life forms hanging in our view. Later, we circumnavigated the rock and were amazed to see the pure white forms of a large sea anemone.”
Like Aruda, he then turned to how things can go wrong. “No matter how hard we tried to do our best, things failed or as they often said, ‘shit happens’. Pipes, gaskets would fail; tanks would collapse; equipment would break. We even had SRBs in our stainless tanks. Many items would fail with such power that it would resemble an explosion.
“Lately, I have heard comments on how new gaskets are much better than old. Our experience was the opposite, as old gaskets contained asbestos they had a much better life span than the new synthetic ones.
“My largest project at Eurocan, a 300-tonne per day CMP pulp mill, actually had 10 — that’s it, 10 major failures within the first one to two years after start-up. During my working time, I was also involved in some of the projects to reduce the tainting of the local oohlican fish. This involves a highly cultural activity that the Haisla engaged in up until Eurocan start up in 1970.
“Over the 10 to 15 years spent looking for a solution, some $100 million was spent on related activities. If this much was spent with no success on a minor issue, if you call it that, how can anyone expect to clean up the beaches of a real nasty oil like dilbit?”
There was a third, highly technical presentation from Kelly Marsh, a millwright with the District of Kitimat (as well as Kitimat Search and Rescue volunteer) who presented his mathematical evidence, based on what he said we standard and accepted models that he said showed that Enbridge has vastly underestimated the chances of spill.
For the first time in public, some voiced in public what many in Kitimat have been saying in private, that if Stephen Harper pushes the project, there will be resistance from the residents of Northwestern British Columbia.
Katherina Ouwehand testified, “I am not a bully and I don’t lose my temper easily, but if this project is given the go-ahead by our Prime Minister, they had better be prepared for a huge fight. My thousands of like-minded friends and I will unite in force and do more than
speak up peacefully. There will be many blockades on the pathways of the pipeline and marine blockades in the channel.”
Murray Minchin, a member of Douglas Channel Watch (although everyone at the public comment hearings are testifying on their own behalf) said, “The original organizers of the Clayoquot Sound clear-cut logging blockades hoped that 500 to 600 people would turn out and help them protest. Over 10,000 showed up and almost 1,000 were arrested. Those numbers will be shattered if this project gets steamrolled through the regulatory process.”
Many of the witnesses voiced their concerns about the Conservative omnibus Bill C-38 which they said would destroy many of the environmental safeguards in the Fisheries and Environmental Assessment Acts.
Margaret Ouwehand said. “I have a great fear. I am afraid of Enbridge because it represents much more than a pipeline; Enbridge is an enabler of all the things that make us ashamed to be Canadian. Do we want a Canada that endangers the whole world by contributing to global warming?
Do we want a Canada that muzzles scientists who don’t say what the oil companies want them to say? Do we feel proud when Canada puts up roadblocks to treaties with other countries so that oil companies can continue to pollute? Do we really want a Canada that prefers temporary foreign workers to be used and, in many cases, abused, just to provide oil companies with cheap labour? Wouldn’t it be more ethical to encourage immigrants to come to Canada to make permanent homes and actually contribute to the country?
“Once we were proud of Canada’s leadership in protecting the environment, both in Canada and world-wide. Now we have sold out to the highest bidders and by so doing we are jeopardizing our very sovereignty. We cannot enter into agreements to limit pollution because the big oil companies who own our resources won’t allow it.
“Once we were the world’s good guys, the peacekeepers, the ones who were caretakers of the environment and of endangered species. Now it’s all about money. Now we are at the bottom of the heap, along with other money-grubbers of the world.”
Mike Langegger, who has testified at previous National Energy Board and JRP hearings on behalf of the Kitimat Rod and Gun, testified, “Today I wish to speak to the implications of the Northern Gateway Project will have on my and many coastal families who call British Columbia home and the threat it poses to a generations of culture, lifestyle, relying on healthy and productive environment and ecosystems we currently have.
“My family, along with many resident British Columbians have a strong connection to our natural environment and is as much part of us as we are of it. By nature we are hunters and gatherers who have sustainable harvest from our natural environment over the generations providing for our families. Abundant and healthy fish and wildlife populations in environment that sustained their existence is critical and must be guaranteed.
“Unfortunately, over my lifetime I’ve witnessed commercial and industrial exploitation come and go, each diminishing our areas natural environment and its ability to support wildlife and the many associated values. It is critical that not only negative implications of the Northern Gateway Project be considered but also the cumulative effects of current, proposed, and past exploitation that has or is likely to occur in our area. Often a single negative impact can be mitigated. However, when a series of impacts are allowed to compile, the end result has proven to be devastating.
“Today the Dungeness crab and our local estuary area are deemed as contaminated and not recommended for consumption. The oohlican populations have been wiped out on most of our local area streams. The Kitimat River has been negatively impacted by resource extractions rendering it reliant on hatchery augmentation. Trees on the west side of the valley have died off suspect to pollution; wildlife populations have been impacted and the list goes on.
“We have seen industries come and exploit our area and its resources, profit substantially and leave, only to pass on a legacy of toxic sites and compromised environment. What they have not left behind is any established fund for impacted First Nation’s area residents and stakeholders to manage and reinvest back into our environment for the benefit of habitat, fish, wildlife that has been impacted.
“Ultimately, industry in general has been allowed to exploit, profit, and leave without being held accountable for our forest to correct damage. That’s the history we currently witness here.
“For those of us that call coastal British Columbia home, the existing environment, fish, wildlife, and associated values are the foundation of who we are. It is those values that foster and nurture many family bonds and are the result of cherished memories with loved ones and friends. It is those values that provide a healthy lifestyle and food source. It is those values that support numerous traditions and are the base of revered culture. It is those values that the Northern Gateway Project ultimately threatens to extinguish.” Transcript Vol.58-Mon June 25, 2012 (pdf)
An anonymous group opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is calling for a demonstration at the site of an oil and gas export conference in Vancouver on May 30 and 31 and asking participants to wear the red square that has become symbolic of the Quebec student protests first against tuition fee hikes and later against Bill 78 aimed at controlling demonstrations in the province.
A notice posted on the website Infoshop News, which describes itself as an anarchist news service, calls for the demonstration at the Four Seasons hotel in Vancouver, site of the Canada Oil and Gas Export Summit. The notice is being widely circulated on Twitter.
The notice adds: “Don’t forget your red squares. Let’s bring the Maple Spring to BC and join Quebec students in opposing the 1% agenda of austerity and environmental destruction.”
Calling the demonstration, “Green Jobs, Not Oil Spills,” the notice says: “On May 30th/31st the 1% are meeting at the Four Seasons hotel for a two day conference to plot their strategy for Exporting raw tar sands bitumen across BC and overseas to China via pipelines and super tankers.”
The website for the Canadian Oil and Gas Export Summit, says “The oil and gas industry is at a critical crossroads and now is the time to take a hard look to alternative outlets for Canadian oil and gas,” meaning alternative markets to the United States. The energy companies are worried about the future of their American market share due to the effect of political gridlock on the US economy and the growing exploitation of American shale gas deposits which are cutting into Canadian export markets.
The site says the conference highlights include:
The latest updates on opening new market opportunities – Moving Canada oil and
gas exports beyond U.S. markets
The impact of the U.S. pipeline decision on the Canadian oil and gas sector
The benefits for Canadian producers to tap into Asian markets and
addressing the perceptions of the two markets
The most cost effective strategies of getting to market in light of opposition
Infrastructure requirements necessary for accessing Canada’s East and West Coast
The legal and regulatory issues surrounding west coast energy corridors, terminals and
shipping in British Columbia
The conference speakers will tackle a large number of hot button issues in BC, from the energy industry point of view: Paul Fisher, vice present, Commercial, Western Access for Enbridge Pipelines speaks on “Exploring Canada’s Ability to Compete in a Global Marketplace.” Gordon Houlden, Director of the China Institute at the University of Alberta, has a talk touching on “Balancing the complexities of unresolved land claims, environmental and infrastructure issues and the economic development of Western Canada.” Tracy Robinson, Vice President Marketing & Sales, Canadian Pacific Railway, speaks on exporting crude by rail. Douglas Ford, of Communica Public Affairs Inc. handles a large number of issues from the PR point of view, including “the regulatory processes related to British Columbia coastal development,” “the complexity of project development in BC vis a vis First Nations,” with advice on “How to effectively engage community, NGOs, and aboriginal stakeholders.” Van Zorbas of Deloitte Canada speaks about the problems from the current labour shortage.
The United States National Transportation Safety Board today released more than 5,000 pages relating to its investigation of the 2010 of the Marshall, Michigan, Enbridge pipeline rupture and oil spill.
The NTSB release says it is adding the documents to the “public docket” on the case.
About 11:17 a.m. EDT on July 26, 2010, Enbridge Energy Partners was notified of a leak on a 30-inch diameter crude oil pipeline (Line 6B) in Marshall, Michigan. The pipeline had ruptured 17 hours earlier and spilled about a million gallons of crude oil into the immediate area resulting in extensive environmental damage to Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
Fifty-eight photographs and 170 documents totaling more than 5000 pages are in the docket. The information being released is factual in nature and does not provide any analysis.
Additional material may be added to the docket as it becomes available. Analysis of the accident, along with conclusions and its probable cause, will be determined at a later date.
This is a document release only; no interviews will be conducted.
More than 800,000 gallons of heavy bitumen crude spilled from the pipeine near Marshall in Calhoun County, Michigan. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Monday the NTSB expects to reach a conclusion on the spill sometime this summer.
On May 10, Enbridge announced it would spend $1.6 billion to upgrade and replace portions of the pipeline through Michigan and Indiana. The broken pipeline, however, would be decontaminated and “abandoned in place.”
Enbridge announced Thursday, May 10, 2012, it plans to spend $1.6 billion to upgrade and replace its pipeline through Michigan and Indiana, including the site of the leak in to the Kalamazoo River in July 2010. What Enbridge calls the “6B pipeline” broke open near Marshall, Michigan and spilled more than 840,000 gallons of bitumen sands oil into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo River.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the broken and now disused pipeline will be demolished. Enbridge says that pipeline will be “abandoned in place,” meaning it will be deactivated, purged of any remaining oil and then filled with an “inert gas,” a move that is permitted under United States pipeline safety regulations.
In a fact sheet, Enbridge says it plans to replace approximately 75 miles of its 30-inch diameter “Line 6B pipeline.” The 75 miles to be replaced with new pipe consists of about 10 miles in Indiana and 65 in Michigan, with replacement pipe to be either 30 or 36-inch diameter pipe in Indiana and southwestern Michigan and 30-inch pipe in the eastern Michigan segment.
Enbridge says the new pipeline will closely follow the route of the old one.
Completion of this project, scheduled for late 2012, should result in fewer integrity digs and repairs along the replacement segments in the future, resulting in fewer disturbances to landowners and local communities.
For this project, we plan to remove the oil from the pipe segments being replaced and fill them with nitrogen before abandoning in place, as prescribed in regulations. In most cases, the new pipe segments will be installed adjacent to those segments being replaced.
Enbride says the “The Line 6B Maintenance and Rehabilitation Project” is part of the company’s “pipeline integrity maintenance program” that includes:
Using high-quality steel and anti-corrosion coatings when constructing our pipelines.
Installing cathodic protection (a low-level electrical charge) to inhibit corrosion of underground pipelines. Pressure testing of new and existing pipelines with
Periodically inspecting the inside of the pipeline with sophisticated tools called “smart pigs” to locate
pipe abnormalities so they can be corrected.
Conducting preventive maintenance programs.
Continually monitoring pipeline operations from Enbridge’s control center, which has remote shut-down capabilities and can monitor pressures and conditions when the pipeline is flowing.
Completing regular ground and aerial inspections of the right-of-way.
Providing public awareness safety information to emergency responders, local public officials, excavators and those who live and work along our pipelines.
Enbridge says the aim of the project is to restore the capacity of the pipeline to meet increasing
demand driven by current and planned refinery upgrades and expansions in Michigan, Ohio
and eastern Canada.
Enbridge plans to complete the Indiana segment of the replacement pipeline by 2012. As for the Michigan pipeline, the company says four segments will be completed in 2012 and the last 160 miles will be completed in late 2012 or early 2013.
All of Enbridge’s plans are subject to U.S. Federal and state approvals.
Although one section of small section of the Kalamazoo River that had been closed following the Enbridge spill in 2010 reopened last month – just three of the 40 miles affected – environmental officials have said significant amounts of oil still remain submerged in the river bed, although they say it is not dangerous to human health. State and federal agencies are slated to open more parts of the river in coming months pending investigation.
Expanding on the opinion piece, the Enbridge blog says
Northern Gateway expects to ship upgraded oil Some Canadians don’t like the idea of shipping bitumen from the oil sands without upgrading it first. Others note that Alberta upgraders and refineries are currently operating at peak capacity and it could be some time before new upgrading capacity is built. Still others note there is a shortage of skilled workers already in the oil and gas industry, and while creating new jobs is certainly important, there are plenty of opportunities for qualified job seekers at this time.
Regardless of your position on the upgrading issue, that debate is peripheral to Northern Gateway—we expect to ship upgraded oil. Like most of Canada’s economic resources, from natural resources to human services, market demands play a large role in determining what is sold, where and when.
Crude oil was Canada’s most valuable export in 2010, amounting to $50 billion in exports. If we include all of Canada’s energy exports—a market worth $94 billion in 2010—nearly 25 per cent of all exports from Canada were energy products.
The article repeats the argument that Canada can no longer depend on one customer, the United States, for its petroleum exports and also links to a page on the Gateway site that repeats the valid argument that coal is more dangerous for the climate than the bitumen sands.
The argument that Enbridge might someday ship upgraded petroleum through the Northern Gateway seems to be an attempt to win over those who support a pipeline carrying a more refined product, but without a timeline and the fact that there are no current plans to create new upgrading capacity in Alberta, means that if the pipeline does go through, it will be carrying bitumen for the foreseeable future.