Missing: independent studies for Northern Gateway Project

The word on the street is that there have been no independent studies done by government agencies for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project. Apparently, the government didn’t even take their own samples and had to rely solely on the findings by the proponent. This entire scientific review is flawed.

Over 300 scientists signed a letter to the federal government which outlines many concerns about the flawed analysis and irresponsible approval of the Northern Gateway Project.

Mackenzie Valley Pipeline vs. Northern Gateway Pipeline:
Back in the 1970’s environmental assessments  for the the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline were done by several agencies of the government of Canada as well as pipeline companies.  This apparently is not the case for the Northern Gateway project.

In comparison, for the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, federal employees did their own sampling and reporting on a wide variety of of environmental and social issues of concern.

In 1973, at least 300 public servants (mostly scientists) were involved in researching and collecting samples for 3 years. In addition, there were an equal number of people who worked for the proponent on gathering data. Because there was a good representation from both sides, it kept everyone in check.

Government scientists must be free to report the truth.

Northern Gateway pipeline proposal:
Canada’s Environmental Protection Laws are no longer adequate to protect our environment with the passage of the three huge Omnibus budget bills that have gutted virtually everything.

gateway Missing: independent studies for Northern Gateway Project
Northern Gateway Pipeline route to pass through Bruderheim, Whitecourt, Smoky River, Tumbler Ridge, Bear Lake, Fort St. James, Burns Lake, Clearwater, Kitimat

Tarsands Expansion
Back in 1980, production was 100,000 barrels per day in the tarsands. Currently,  it is at 1.5 million barrels per day. Production is expected to grow by 150% over the next 15 years.

Surface mining for bitumen increased from approximately  40 hectares in 1974 to just over 71,500  hectares in 2010.

PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons)
Contaminants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) measured within lake sediments have increased in concentration since commercial development of the bitumen resource began in the late-1960s. PAHs (and other contaminants) are a prominent component of bitumen.

PAH Environmental impact assessments
Studies on PAH have only considered PAHs that are directly released into the air as dust particles during strip mining. But the processing of bitumen generates huge amounts of wastewater that’s collected in tailing ponds, and this wastewater contains significant amounts of PAHs.

Even very low concentrations of PAHs can cause heart failure in fish and disrupt the development of fish larvae.

CoreExtrusion Missing: independent studies for Northern Gateway Project
Why no samples from government scientists for Northern Gateway pipeline?

Water containing PAHs is evaporating from the tailings ponds and becomes airborne. Contaminant levels have been observed in lakes hundreds of kilometres away from the major development area.

Monitoring air temperature changes
Fort McMurray’s annual air temperatures have increased by approximately  1.65 °C since 1960. In northern Alberta, shifts in flood regime and an increase in the number of closed-drainage lakes during the 20th century are unprecedented.

Meaningful environmental monitoring should be established for the tarsands before additional extraction takes place and pipelines are built. Not enough is known about polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) within lake sediments. Thorough scientific research has not been completed to satisfy concerns.

Environmental Protection in Canada has been rolled back 5 decades and is now inadequate to maintain the environmental quality which most Canadians want and expect. Even the very original environmental monitoring on the effects of extracting oil from the tarsands was inadequate.

It is time to take a step back and save ourselves from imminent disaster. Email Premier Christy Clark and tell her what you think, premier@gov.bc.ca.

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