Published in the Kitimat Northern Sentinel, September 8, 2010.
Note: Alan Roth left Enbridge shortly after this interview.
Despite the rally on the Riverlodge parking lot, and the number of people and organizations against the Northern Gateway Project, Alan Roth sees the Joint Review Panel public sessions as positive.
Roth, Senior Communications Manager for Enbridge sees the Northern Gateway Project’s public sessions as a positive step on the way to the project’s completion.
“I’ve heard a lot of people that are keeping an open mind or who understand that if their concerns are addressed they’re more willing to be in favour of the project.”
Roth argues the First Nations’ support for the natural gas pipeline, along the route Enbridge proposes the Northern Gateway pipeline, in Haisla Territory means Coastal First nations support energy development and may support the NGP in the future.
Haisla Councillor Gerald Amos, a director and executive member of Coastal First Nations, said in a March 23, 2010 press release on the 21 anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, “this bountiful and globally significant coastline cannot bear an oil spill. This is where Enbridge hits a wall.”
Ray Doering, Engineering Manager for NGP, says nothing about the proposed pipeline has not been done previously, “there’s no particular element of this that hasn’t been done before, tunnels are common in Europe and Asia for pipelines. We’re looking at best practices and most current design standards for this sort of terminal all over the world, so there’s lots of examples that are out there and being used everyday safely. There’s no one element that we haven’t addressed before at some time.”
He also noted the pipeline isn’t the first to be laid across the continental divide or mountains, and a significant portions of the pipeline in BC will be laid in “routine”, flat areas.
Doering says risk of avalanche damage to the pipeline is mitigated by burying it along its 1,200km length and running it through two proposed tunnels each about 6.5km long, one at North Hope Peak, the other at Nimbus Mountain.
Kitimat was chosen over Prince Rupert Doering says because of the experience with the natural gas pipeline which runs in the Skeena Valley.
Doering points out there are no active earthquake fault lines along the proposed route, and believes the risk of seismic activity is low, “the active seismic area is west of Haida Gwaii”, but adds area chosen for the tanks for the marine terminal was selected because it allows construction right on solid rock, without risk of liquefaction.
Roth believes a lot of concerns people have about the project stem from a lack of understanding of the safety, engineering and water crossing measures, and the tanker safety program which he says is “above and beyond what any other tanker or marine vessels are currently doing on the west coast of British Columbia.”
Indepent, quantitative research analysis of the NGP indicates a low probability of a major spill around the Kitimat terminal according to Roth, 1/1500 years, and a major spill in open water 1/15,000 years.
Based on kilometres of pipe, Enbridge claims it is “better than the industry average” for safe delivery of petroleum products, Roth also cites an NEB study showing no breaches from pipes less than 25 years old.
Roth also says with proper maintenance and upgrading, pipelines can be safe for their entire service life.
At press time, the cause of Enbridges leak from the 6b pipeline in Michigan is not known.
“It’s not about selling the project, it’s more about communicating with the public and trying to make some of those more technical aspects of the application understandable and knowable to people that either don’t have the technical expertise or the time to go through the application.”
Roth takes exception to the complaint the 8,000 page NGP application is difficult to parse, “the application, as much as it sounds daunting, is not as difficult as it may seem to go through if a person takes a bit of time.
“The first volume tells you which other volume carry which information, and there are tables of contents at the beginning.”
Kitimat’s Diane Hewlett, Manager of Economic Promotion, said she had been able to go through the application in four days, but noted she has a background creating these types of documentation.
Roth advises people read the brochure created and if they would like more information to contact Enbridge.