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A Visual Argument Against The Northern Gateway Pipeline

The map below shows the path that the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would take, from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Pacific coast.

Proposed path of the Northern Gateway pipeline.  Image:

Proposed path of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Image:

If you look closely, you’ll notice that the pipeline doesn’t actually end on the coast.  Rather, it ends in Kitimat which is more than 100 km from open water.  In order to get to open water, the super-tankers, some of which are 3,5 football fields long and 200 feet wide, would have to travel through narrow, dangerous fiords.

The image below shows how a spill from one of those super-tankers would spread along the coast:

Image: Nature Canada

Image: Nature Canada

We can expect those massive ships to go through that fiord at a rate of one every two days.

History tells us that oil spills are impossible to contain and clean up.  History also tells us that oil companies will do everything they can in order to NOT compensate the people that are affected by spills.  And a spill such as the one portrayed above would affect aboriginal communities, the local tourism industry and fisherman all along the Pacific coast.  (As a note, the BC salmon fishing industry alone employs 16 000 people and is worth $1,7 billion a year.  Crab fishing in the north BC coast adds another $20 million dollars a year to the local economy.)

7 Comments leave one →
  1. g2-d6bd80ca6efb32430e876bbac43ef753 permalink
    2012/02/05 3:46 am

    I support everything you outline so well here. You can double your warning when one considers the potential of a Tar Sands crude spill along the marine life rich beaches of China.

    Can you imagine the backlash from millions of seafood workers when they realize the percentage of toxins we irresponsibly expect them to dispose of safely during refining, aside from a spill, that is.

    There are more angles; Like, why pipe crude through lakes and swamps in the bush when there is an even grade from Pr. George via the Skeena highway to Rupert, where leaks can be easily spotted and accessed for repairs. Helicopters not required. TG

    • 2012/02/05 8:23 pm

      The sad part (about the seafood workers) is that governments don’t seem to care. I was watching a news report about the crab fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico (Post-oil spill) and that industry is disappearing before their very eyes. Yet, governments continue to allow the same practices to continue. Even worse, there is a race going on to see who can start drilling in the Arctic – one of the most inhospitable places in the world. Dealing with a spill up there would be just about impossible. (Climate Progress has an entry about that.)

  2. Martin Lack permalink
    2012/02/05 5:24 am

    Thanks JP (can I please call you that?). Given that this BC coastline, which clearly exceeds even the work of Slartibartfast in Norway – and having more folds in it than your large intestine – it would be a both a nightmare to see it polluted and a nightmare to clean it up. I know this is sufficient reason in itself to oppose such development but I think we must also never fail to push the argument that unconventional fossil fuels must be left in the ground.

    • 2012/02/05 10:29 am

      JP is fine : )

    • 2012/02/05 8:26 pm

      I know that these are serious subjects, but I giggled out loud when I read the title of your post : “Hansen says we should FART” : )

      Thank you for the link. I’ll be reading that post of yours shortly… right now I have to go eat dinner and watch a movie with my wife!

  3. g2-d6bd80ca6efb32430e876bbac43ef753 permalink
    2012/02/05 5:29 pm

    PS. Here is the BlogSite of our lone Green Party member in the parliament of Canada. Just discovered.

    Happens to be based in NewBrunswick.
    All that code by the avatar is a WordPress thing to be fixed.

    • 2012/02/05 8:16 pm

      Thank you for the link. Now I have more stuff to read : )
      I am a fan of the Green Party (and Elizabeth May) but am discouraged by the fact that they are still considered by many to be a “one subject” party. The reality is that they consider the environmental impacts of most of their policies – that isn’t the same as only caring about the environment.

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