30 NOV 2011
A new report warns that a proposed $5.3 billion pipeline that would link Canada’s tar sands to the Pacific coast poses potential threats to native communities, wildlife, and the region’s salmon fisheries. Enbridge Inc., whose 730-mile Northern Gateway Pipeline would transport 525,000 barrels of crude oil across British Columbia daily, has not addressed the vulnerability of the pipeline to rupture in the face of natural threats, including extreme weather and rockslides, according to the report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Pembina Institute, and the Living Oceans Society. For instance, a major storm could trigger a rock avalanche that could rupture the pipeline while also hampering response efforts — particularly along remote stretches of the pipeline. “Poor weather conditions combined with associated floods and erosion could prevent ground or air access for emergency response crews,” the report said. The report comes just weeks after the White House delayed approval of another controversial pipeline, the 1,711-mile Keystone XL project, which would run from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast in Texas. Meanwhile, a group of South African leaders — including Archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu — has urged Canadian leaders to take a lead role in the fight against climate change as they make critical decisions about how to exploit Alberta’s vast tar sands reserves, the world’s second-largest petroleum deposit.