There are two elephants in the room with respect to the Northern Gateway pipeline discussions:
We live in an earthquake zone.
I seriously doubt any pipeline traversing our province east to west could survive a major earthquake. Likely there would be multiple ruptures; a fracture of the pipe at one point would not “ease” the stresses in more distant parts of the pipe — earthquake waves would meet each of the supporting structures in turn.
Thus, away from the coast, one could expect that at least several waterways would be contaminated.
At the coast, the tragedy at Fukushima gives an impression of what could well happen here. But imagine that additionally the wall of water sweeping the coast is contaminated with crude oil.
Oil companies may well argue that they have shutoff valves in case of sudden loss of pressure, but control systems, too, can be put out of action in complex systems.
Surely the litany of engineering disasters to date should remove our belief in the infallibility of engineers. The same applies to massive tankers navigating in these risky, narrow coastal waters.
It is time to stop pretending that major engineering structures or projects can be made immune to catastrophe. Where the outcomes of such failures have such enormous consequences, it is time to invoke the precautionary principle, and weight decisions to the side of caution.
The second elephant is the enormity of the contribution that this pipeline to Asia would make to global warming.
Not only is the annual quantity of crude to be transferred there immense, but because of the gigantic investment required the project guarantees that Canada will keep on exporting, and China will keep on burning for decades. It is a huge atmospheric carbon dioxide supply tap that we will not be able to shut off.
Prudence in caring for BC’s extraordinarily bountiful and beautiful environment, and in protecting the future of the planet demands that the project be rejected.
Dr. Colin Park,