"It Will Never Happen Here."
Every few weeks it seems a major shipping or oil pipeline spill occurs. So to keep you informed on what B.C. may be reporting on in the future if Enbridge's pipeline is built to Kitimat, please read on.
ENBRIDGE PIPELINE and ASSOCIATED PRESS
Vessels' collision sparks massive oil spill
Cleanup in Port Arthur under way; evacuations lifted
By PAIGE HEWITT and DANE SCHILLER, Houston Chronicle, Jan. 24, 2010, 7:07AM
PORT ARTHUR — State and federal officials will continue a massive cleanup today after a collision between an oil tanker and a barge sent up to 450,000 gallons of crude oil gushing into the water only yards from shore Saturday and brought all nearby shipping traffic to a halt.
Crews worked into the night to seal the leak and keep the oil that had already escaped from spreading. . .
Panel struck to review pipeline to West Coast
Enbridge plan to undergo scrutiny
By Shaun Polczer, Calgary Herald, January 21, 2010
A formal hearing into the Northern Gateway pipeline took a step closer after
the National Energy Board and the federal department of the environment on
Wednesday announced the panel charged with reviewing the project.
The three-member team will oversee public hearings and the environmental
review when Enbridge Inc. submits a regulatory application for the
1,200-kilometre pipeline, which will carry 525,000 barrels per day of
oilsands production from Edmonton to a deep water terminal at Kitimat, B.C.
"Now it's up to Enbridge," said NEB spokeswoman Kristen Higgins. "We're
waiting on an application."
The panel will be headed by Sheila Leggett who has been a member of the NEB
since 2006 and is currently its vice-chairwoman. Prior to joining the NEB,
Leggett was with Alberta's Natural Resources Conservation Board and a
founding member for Alberta Ecotrust.
Joining her will be Kenneth Bateman, who was previously vice-president of
legal affairs for Enmax, and Hans Matthews, a mining geologist with
extensive aboriginal experience at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.
Once Enbridge's application is received, it will be reviewed for
completeness and a hearing order will be issued, paving the way for public
The joint review panel announcement sets the stage for what promises to be a
lively debate between pipeline proponents who argue Canada desperately needs
access to Asian markets and environmentalists bitterly opposed to opening
coastal waters to tanker traffic.
Virtually all of Canada's oil exports flow on pipelines to the United States
and Premier Ed Stelmach on Wednesday spoke on a local talk radio show of the
need to diversify Alberta's export markets.
Northern Gateway's vice-president of public and government affairs, Steve
Greenaway, said the pipeline is in Canada's national interest to ensure
maximum value for the country's resources. A formal regulatory application
is expected to be filed before the end of March, he added.
"Many industry observers have spoken of the discounts that face producers in
the absence of having new markets and having to rely on one market."
To get to the coast, the pipeline has to cross through traditional lands of
native groups, many of which are opposed to the project. British Columbia is
conducting 49 sets of negotiations to resolve outstanding land claims
issues, according to the B.C. Treaty Commission website.
David de Wit, the natural resources manager of the Wet'suwet'en First
Nation, said his group will participate in the review panel process even
though it feels the process lacks legitimacy. De Wit says he's concerned
what impact the pipeline and the threat of a spill will have on salmon
habitat, which people rely on for food.
"The Wet'suwet'en will try to have unaddressed issues addressed in whatever
forum takes place," he said. "But it's a lengthy and time consuming process
to participate . . . We'd prefer not to see the project take place."
Oilsands Trouble in B.C.
By Barbara Yaffe, Vancouver Sun, 21 Jan 2010
Debate about the always-controversial oilsands is shifting to B.C. with plans under way for a pipeline to transport the resource from northern Alberta to a port in Kitimat, B.C. for potential tanker shipment to markets both in the U.S. and Asia.
The project, by Enbridge Inc., is called the Northern Gateway Project. It proposes a 1,170-kilometre multi-billion-dollar pipeline by 2015 that would create 4,000 jobs during a three-year construction phase, plus long-term operational jobs — and, according to Enbridge's website, “hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues over the life of the project.”
Escort tugs rescue drifting tanker
By KYLE HOPKINS, Anchorage Daily News, January 17th, 2010
EXXON: Ship loses its power generators as it was departing sound.
An Exxon tanker carrying more than 25 million gallons of Alaska crude oil
lost power early Sunday morning while leaving Prince William Sound and had
to be towed to safety, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Two tugs that had been escorting the 832-foot tanker Kodiak were nearby when
it lost its generators and gained control of vessel, said Petty Officer 3rd
Class Jonathan Lally.
"Nothing was spilled," Lally said.
Trouble was reported at about 3 a.m. when the tanker was in Hinchinbrook
Entrance - where the sound opens into the Gulf of Alaska and at the end of
the escort route, said Donna Schantz, acting director of the Prince William
Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.
Three more tugs arrived and the tanker was taken to safe harbor around 9
a.m. at Knowles Head in the Sound, Lally said. The vessel was carrying
613,000 barrels of oil, he said.
"The Kodiak also reported that they believed the generator was on fire,
which after further investigation was determined to be false," said a report
by Joel Kennedy, maritime operations project manager for the citizens
That's why additional tugs, with firefighting capability, where called,
It's quite uncommon for a tanker to completely lose power in the Sound, she
said. "To me I think what was so important about this incident was the
prevention system worked. I mean they had 10-foot plus seas out at
Hinchinbrook and both tugs took a line to the tanker and took control."
The Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping are investigating and
will decide when the tanker will be allowed to leave, according to the
advisory council. The Kodiak was headed from Valdez to San Francisco and
belongs to Exxon-owned Sea River Maritime Inc., according to the Coast
It's the same tanker that struck a humpback whale last summer, Schantz said.
Tankers load crude oil at Valdez, the end of the trans-Alaska pipeline.
In October 2002, the tanker Kenai was leaving Prince William Sound in the
Hinchinbrook Entrance when it suffered propulsion trouble, called for
assistance and shut down its engines, according to the advisory council.
That tanker was carrying nearly 798,000 barrels of oil and was towed to
Knowles Head for safety, said news reports at the time.
Tugboat Spills Fuel Oil After Hitting Same Reef as Exxon Valdez in '89
December 26, 2009 By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
ANCHORAGE (AP) — Two decades after the Exxon Valdez disaster, a tugboat
working to prevent another oil spill in Prince William Sound ran aground on
the same reef and left a three-mile sheen of fuel oil on the water.
The tug had just finished checking for dangerous ice on Wednesday and was
heading back to port in Valdez when it hit Bligh Reef. It is part of the
Ship Escort Response Vessel System that was created after the Exxon Valdez
ran aground in 1989 and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil.
Senator Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, said it was troubling that a
spill-response vessel "managed to run aground on one of the most well-marked
and well-known reefs in the Northern Hemisphere."
The tug reported the grounding at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday, and by Thursday an
oil-response vessel had arrived and began skimming the water.
It was not immediately known how much fuel oil spilled. The Coast Guard said
Thursday that two of the tug’s tanks, containing an estimated 33,500 gallons
of diesel fuel, were damaged and that there was a fuel sheen on the water
about 3 miles long and 30 yards wide.
Lt. Erin Christensen of the Coast Guard said an estimate on how much fuel
spilled could not be made until the recovered fuel was off-loaded to a barge
Officials are investigating the cause of the grounding. The six crew members
tested negative for alcohol use.
Gov. Sean Parnell had sharp words for Alaska’s oil industry, pointing out
that there had been three significant recent spills in the Prudehoe Bay oil
fields before Wednesday's accident.
"Frankly, when I saw so many spills in such a short time, I was indignant
that these spills would occur," Mr. Parnell said in a statement. "The spills
harm both Alaska’s environment and Alaska’s reputation for responsible
resource development. I let the companies know this was not acceptable."
The spills in the Prudhoe fields included one discovered Monday that
contaminated several thousand square feet of snow-covered land. Last month,
a spill of 46,000 gallons of oil, water and natural gas was reported. And
officials also investigated another oil spill of about 7,100 gallons of
water with oily residue.
Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios of the Coast Guard said the tug’s six-member
crew deployed 200 feet of fuel-containment booms around the vessel after
clearing the reef and continuing on to deeper waters.
A dive team inspecting the tug, which is operated by Crowley Marine
Services, found damage to the hull and a section of keel that was missing,
Petty Officer Rios said.
The Ship Escort Response Vessel System provides two escort tugboats for each
tanker traveling through the sound after leaving the Valdez Marine Terminal
with crude from the North Slope.
Petty Officer Rios emphasized that the grounding of the tug was very
different from the Exxon Valdez accident, in which an enormous amount of
black crude oil spilled. The tug was carrying much lighter diesel fuel,
which will evaporate, he said.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
Sharp lessons in near-disaster
Times Colonist, November 24, 2009
If British Columbians want to know about potential marine disasters on their coast, they should pay close attention to news from Washington State's environment department.
Last Wednesday night, as storm winds hammered the region, the bulk carrier Hebei Lion was anchored off Mayne Island. Its anchor failed to hold and the giant ship -- more than two football fields in length -- blew onto a rocky reef.
The next day, the Washington State environment department issued a news release providing public information on the incident, the threat and the state's response. Staff and volunteer spill teams were put on standby alert.
Neither the B.C. nor Canadian government provided any information to the public that day, or in the days that followed.
The Gulf Islands Driftwood, apparently alerted by people monitoring marine radio, had a report Thursday. But because of the governments' silence, virtually all British Columbians were kept in the dark for days.
The threat of a disaster was real. Dale Jensen, Washington's manager of spill prevention and response, said there were "profound environmental and economic risks."
The ship ran aground on rocks in Navy Channel, adjacent to Mayne, Pender, Saltspring, Saturna and Galiano islands. "Damage to fuel tanks on a cargo ship that size could have oiled the islands on both sides of the border," Jensen said.
The freighter can carry 1.2 million gallons of fuel oil, about one-tenth the amount of oil spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster.
A spill was averted in this case, at least in part because of good luck. The Hebei Lion ran onto the rocks at low water during a rising tide. The hull was apparently not punctured and tugs were able to free the ship the next day.
The incident raises several questions.
The most obvious is why Washington State officials -- who were notified of the grounding by B.C.'s Environment Ministry -- considered this important enough to tell the public about, while provincial and federal agencies here stayed silent.
That should add to concern about the governments' support for the Enbridge pipeline from Alberta's oilsands to Kitimat and the jump in tanker traffic as large ships transport the oil to Asia.
The pipeline proposal, after several years, is winning increased commercial backing.
Producers see diversification opportunities in China and Korea and there is increasing concern that the U.S. climate-change policy will create barriers for oilsands exports, which require significant carbon emissions as part of the production process.
The debate about tanker safety, the risks for British Columbia's coast and the long-term benefits for the province continues.
But proponents have stressed two factors. Government oversight and regulation would protect the environment even with a large volume of tanker traffic. (The pipeline would deliver 22 million gallons of oil a day to the coast.)
And the shipping industry has its own effective safeguards, the backers of inceased tanker traffic maintain.
The Hebei Lion incident raises doubts on both counts. The grounding reveals that risks remain, despite the most modern technology.
And the response -- particularly in terms of public accountability -- undermines government claims of vigilance and openness.
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist