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BC government won’t support Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline as presented over spill response concerns

In its final written submission to the Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP), the government of British Columbia states that it cannot support the project as presented to the panel primarily because Northern Gateway (NG) has been unable to adequately detail its response to a spill.

The Northern Gateway Pipeline is a proposed 1,170-kilometer (727-mile) twin pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast. Northern Gateway’s West line, 36 inches in diameter, would transport an average of 525,000 barrels of oil sands crude per day to Kitimat. The East Line, 20 inches in diameter, will carry 193,000 barrels of condensate per day back to Edmonton. Condensate is used to thin petroleum products for pipeline transport (diluent).

The project before the JRP is not a typical pipeline. For example: the behavior in water of the material to be transported is incompletely understood; the terrain the pipeline wold cross is not only remote, it is in many places extremely difficult to access; the impact of spills into pristine river environments would be profound. In these particular and unique circumstances, NG should not be granted a certificate on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning once the certificate is granted. The standard in this particular case musty be higher. And yet, it is respectfully submitted, for the reasons set out below, NG has not met that standard. “Trust me” is not good enough in this case.

—“Argument of the Government of British Columbia”

The provincial government has established, and maintains, strict conditions in order for British Columbia to consider the construction and operation of heavy-oil pipelines in the province. In the case of Northern Gateway, these would include:

  • Successful completion of the environmental review process. In the case of Northern Gateway, that would mean a recommendation by the National Energy Board Joint Review Panel that the project proceed;

  • World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for BC’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines and shipments;

  • World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy-oil pipelines;

  • Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project; and

  • British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy-oil project that reflect the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers.

British Columbia thoroughly reviewed all of the evidence and submissions made to the panel and asked substantive questions about the project including its route, spill response capacity and financial structure to handle any incidents. Our questions were not satisfactorily answered during these hearings.

Northern Gateway has said that they would provide effective spill response in all cases. However, they have presented little evidence as to how they will respond. For that reason, our government cannot support the issuance of a certificate for the pipeline as it was presented to the Joint Review Panel.

We have carefully considered the evidence that has been presented to the Joint Review Panel. The panel must determine if it is appropriate to grant a certificate for the project as currently proposed on the basis of a promise to do more study and planning after the certificate is granted. Our government does not believe that a certificate should be granted before these important questions are answered.

—BC Environment Minister Terry Lake

In April 2012, the Joint Review Panel released 199 potential conditions that could form part of an authorization for the Northern Gateway Pipeline project if it received federal approval. In preparing the final argument submission, the Province’s legal and technical experts analyzed the conditions and determined that they must be strengthened to meet BC’s interests and requirements.

The position adopted by BC on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project as currently proposed is not a rejection of heavy-oil projects, the Ministry said. All proposals—such as Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion or the Kitimat Clean project—will be judged on their merits. The Province’s five conditions would still apply.

British Columbia will be presenting oral final arguments to the Joint Review Panel when hearings recommence in Terrace on 17 June, based on BC’s final written submission.



BC government has the right to request and get better binding guarantees and fair compensation before allowing those pipelines to be built in their beautiful mountains and across their clean fresh water rivers.

If Pipeline and Tar Sands people want it bad enough they will agree to BC's safety regulations and compensations requested or do without the pipelines.


Speaking as someone who lives, works, and plays on the B.C. coast: I agree that the highest standards of safety have to be met first. “Trust me” is not good enough!


Exxon, Valdez Alaska and the pipeline consortia said "trust me". They said that they would have an immediate response, while days later the oil ran down a 1000 miles of coastline.


I fully agree.

A large emergency/accident/spill clean up fund, financed with a $1 to $2/barrel fee could generate $1,000,000+/day. The rate could be progressively reduced when the fund has reach $20+B?

John McAvoy

why can't refineries be located at/near the source of this oil sand? Then conventional transportation technology could distribute this atmosphere poison.


Because major customers want to do the refining in their own (existing) facilities and get all the higher price by-products for local re-sale and/or export? Refining becomes money making.

That is the case in Texas and Asia

Kit P


You work! I find that hard to believe. Parasites are an important part of society.


Stop that it is bad for the environment.



Please keep the comments on topic.

Kit P


Do not post at all. Notice I did not say please. When you put some thought behind your comments, I will consider being civil.

It is California thing. All of SJC life he has been told that by the liberal adults in his life that he is special to protect his self esteem.

SJC is what is called a hypocrite. Many of the post are off topic. Apparently it only bothers SJC when I do it.


How many KP in USA?


why can't refineries be located at/near the source of this oil sand? Then conventional transportation technology could distribute this atmosphere poison.



Could unwanted Petcoke be returned to the underground, where it came from?


The problem is that it isn't unwanted. Some people, like the Koch brothers, see Petcoke as a money maker. Their company buys and sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste to places, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

Kit P

Again ai vin what kind of work do you perform to pay for the computer and power to run it.

People who are critical of those who supply what they need should at least tell us what they contribute.

I think RE is great if you have the resources nut reserve your judgment about those who do not.


Unsold Petcoke surpluses are pilling up in many (open) places. Dangerous runoffs find their ways into adjacent streams, rivers and lakes. Buyers know that and they will delay their purchase until the price drops to almost zero. Eventually, buyers may even get paid to remove that nasty byproduct.

Kit P could feed his power generating plants with all free feed stock?

Kit P

"Kit P could feed his power generating plants with all free feed stock?"

Actually I think there is PTC for doing that in the US.


When will polluters be called to pay for all damages caused by Petcoke runoffs and/or burning?

It should be illegal to export that junk as it is illegal to export drugs?





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