Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Douglas Channel tanker route video clarifies misleading Enbridge ad

August 17, 2012

In the wake of Lori Waters’ stunning revelation that Enbridge is misleading the public with its Northern Gateway public relations materials, Living Oceans has released a video that provides a much more accurate picture of the navigation hazards that would be faced if the pipeline company were permitted to run Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) through Douglas Channel.

“Once the ‘missing islands’ are put back into the Channel, the route to Kitimat becomes a twisted path that narrows to as little as 1.4 km,” said Karen Wristen, Executive Director of Living Oceans. “Tankers as large as VLCCs will be hard-pressed to make turns as sharp as 90 degrees—five of them in all—without incident.”

Vessel incidents involving a loss of power or steerage are not uncommon. In one study conducted in Los Angeles harbour, there was one loss of power or steerage per 100 vessel visits to the port. The entrance to the Port of Los Angeles is wide open, however; vessels navigating the turns on Douglas Channel will have much more opportunity for steering gear failures, especially during the maneuvering of an S-bend around the tip of Gil Island.

“Even applying the failure rate for Los Angeles, we could expect two to three losses of power or steering somewhere along the Channel each year,” said Wristen.

Living Oceans previously released an oil spill simulation that shows how quickly winds, tides and currents would distribute any spilled oil that remained afloat along the coastline. “The VLCCs will carry diluted bitumen which is likely to sink quite quickly, as it did on the Kalamazoo River,” said Wristen. “The impacts on rare northern sponges, corals and bottom-dwelling species will persist indefinitely, so far as we know.”

Tanker safety is one of several subjects on which Living Oceans will provide expert evidence to the Joint Review Panel examining the Northern Gateway proposal, when that Panel convenes its ‘questioning phase’ this fall.