Enbridge/Northern Gateway's answers at the hearings into the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in Prince George are not providing enough detail for B.C. to judge whether the company is living up to the promise to implement world-leading land-based spill prevention, response and mitigation practices, Environment Minister Terry Lake said today.
"The responses that Enbridge/Northern Gateway representatives are giving our legal counsel are long on promises, but short on solid evidence and action to date," said Lake. "The company needs to show British Columbians that they have practical solutions to the environmental risks and concerns that have been raised. So far, they have not done that."
During cross-examination by the Province, Enbridge/Northern Gateway representatives acknowledged that they are not able to say at this time how much of the pipeline, or areas where a spill might end up, would be within two kilometres of a road and therefore accessible. The company conceded that they have not yet determined the details of pipeline access, especially in remote regions, including high terrain areas.
The Province's cross-examination also revealed that Enbridge/Northern Gateway will not have a spill response plan finalized until six months before pipeline operations begin. For instance, that means that the company cannot provide details on how they will access spill response equipment caches and choose spill control points on rivers and creeks.
The Province's cross-examination is designed to reveal the degree to which the proposed pipeline meets the five conditions laid down by B.C. for support of any heavy oil pipeline project, specifically the conditions regarding the requirement for world-class land and maritime spill prevention, response and mitigation systems.
"The answers that we are getting in Prince George show that Enbridge/Northern Gateway has not yet done the work to prove that this pipeline will be safe," Lake said. "The company is not giving us much reason to have confidence that they can deliver on their promises."
The Province has concluded its cross-examination on operational and emergency preparedness issues in Prince George. B.C.'s cross-examination will continue at the hearings that start in Prince Rupert on Nov. 22. There, the Joint Review Panel will look into questions about maritime spill prevention, response and mitigation and environmental effects associated with the proposed marine terminal.
The government of B.C. has produced a video with Google Earth depictions of portions of the pipeline route in the province. The video shows an example, the Clore River, of the exceptionally challenging location and terrain involved with respect to mounting a timely and effective oil spill response. The video can be found at: http://youtu.be/LinF3tJaYRk
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Environment