Healthy Oceans. Healthy Communities.

Enbridge applies to federal government to allow oil tankers on the B.C. coast

May 27, 2010
Ignores First Nations ban and public opposition

SOINTULA, B.C. -- On May 27 Enbridge escalated conflict on the coast when they took steps to break the First Nations ban on tanker traffic by applying to the federal government for approval of their Northern Gateway pipeline.

“Enbridge poses a grave threat to the future of coastal First Nations’ way of life,” says Art Sterritt, Executive Director of the Coastal First Nations. “We will not allow Enbridge to do to us what BP has done to the people of Louisiana.”

Sterritt said Enbridge is unfamiliar with the strength and commitment of B.C.’s First Nations. “We do not intend to lose this fight. We are not willing to roll the dice with our children’s future. The stakes are too high.”

The National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will jointly review the project that includes a pipeline from the tar sands to Kitimat and over 200 oil tankers per year sailing from Kitimat to markets in Asia and the United States. The tankers will travel through important fishing areas, critical whale habitat and the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

In light of the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, Enbridge has been under increasing pressure to back off on this project. Instead, they have purchased ads in prominent newspapers, trying to convince the public that their project will provide increased protection to the environment from oil spills.

“Enbridge has tried to make the case that they will somehow make the coast safer by bringing in over 200 oil tankers per year,” says Jennifer Lash of Living Oceans Society. “This is a ludicrous statement because no matter which way you spin it, there is no way it can be safer if there are  oil tankers on the coast.”

Critics are concerned that an oil spill on the North Coast of B.C. would be catastrophic to the communities, fisheries, coastal economy and marine life. Enbridge is not responsible for the oil once it leaves the terminal in Kitimat and therefore have no legal obligation to clean up a spill, leaving communities and the ocean vulnerable to a spill.

The application process could take over 12 months to complete. 

CLICK HERE to see the interactive oil spill model that shows how an oil spill from tankers, a drilling rig, cruise ships, and container vessels could affect B.C.'s coastal ecosystems and communities.


Contact Information

Art Sterritt, Coastal First Nations – 604-868-9110

Jennifer Lash, Living Oceans Society – 250-741-4006