Friday, February 24, 2012

pipe dreams: Enbridge and the Northern Gateway Pipeline

Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline - wiki article

Though the matter is up for debate, and I don't really know enough about the matter to discuss it at the length it deserves, I do know that a project this large should gain more attention than I believe it is. My friend Chelsea shared this article today and I think it provides a perspective that is not only important, but will likely be lost in the wash of Corporate Voices, Political Progress, and Apathy.

It disturbs me how often I'm hearing these stories lately. First it was the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon, next it was the Coral Sea preservation in Australia (in 24 hours, the Australian government could approve the world's biggest marine reserve to help preserve spectacular coral reefs and endangered species. But the commercial fishing industry is lobbying to oppose it. Petition here). Now I've decided to look into the Enbridge pipeline and I admit, I'm baffled.

When will we stop choosing Money over Life?

Excerpt below from the Vancouver Observer.

Oil executive son's testimony at Prince Rupert Northern Gateway pipeline joint review panel
Carrie Saxifrage

Posted: Feb 20th, 2012

It was a hot, sunny and humid day, after monsoon rainfall my entire time there -- I think it was most likely the Prince Rupert weather following me overseas -- and on that day a hand full of managers thought it would be fun to take me out to the jetty, where they loaded and unloaded the super tankers. Situated a lengthy route away from the refinery itself, we drove down to towards the coastline.

On our way there, we drove past many different villages. Each one looking extremely impoverished. I learned later that this was not always the case. There was a time in this region where fishing, farming and the local economy truly flourished. But once the refinery project was approved, among other projects in the region, they built a pipeline directly through nine different villages. Over a period of time, there was pipeline breakage which contaminated an underground aquifer, and spoiled the wells and water supply of the majority of the surrounding villages. As industry expanded, and land bought and sold, men were forced into cheap labour at the refineries, after lifetimes of sustainable farming and fishing -- now dependent on one or two companies for employment. Women, children and elders went starving after losing access to fresh water, with no accountability for cleanup -- just left to fend for themselves. I ask, what would be the case here in our region? Do you see any potential similarities?
Converging onto a thin strip of man-made road spanning about two miles in length, we arrived at the Jetty, greeted by military personnel. After a lengthy process of clearing me for entry, we walked onto couple massive docking stations. To my right, men were conducting repairs on a rather standard sized vessel, no larger than the ones you would see here in our Harbour. In the distance, a ULCC fresh from the Middle East was rolling in from the horizon. The size of the vessel stopped me in my tracks. After 10 minutes, the ship stopped and made a slow bank horizontally out at sea.
I asked one of the managers -- Jitesh was his name -- why the ship stopped so far out. He told me that because of the size of the ship, they had a floating unloading station, and through another piping system they unload and load way out there, and that connects to the main routing station at the Jetty, to be piped a few miles back to the refinery.
I asked him why, and he said, "Even though we have docking stations here, it is for the smaller vessels that are used for domestic purposes. But these larger vessels that come from the Middle East can run aground easily."
This, in open seas, I thought.
So we all stood there, suspended in what felt like an eternal moment -the heat waves rising above the calmed Arabian Sea, and the ship danced in the horizon as I stood dumbfounded by its sheer mass. One man comments: “I always forget just how large those vessels are.” 

A few moments pass as we all stood, just watching.
Out of the silence, Jitesh says to me “Do you see what we are doing here Mr. Lee?”
I asked “What’s that, Jitesh?”
He replied, with an unexpected, sobering tone: “We are destroying future generations for now, and forever.”
And in this kind of slow motion life moment, I felt this kind of tingling feeling on the top of my head– and with sweat dripping down from the inside of my hard hat onto my face, the sun beaming into my eyes -- I squint over at six men slowing nodding their heads in silent agreement.

view the full article here


R said...

Thank you for thinking of stuff like this. I to also don't understand why we chose money over life, but still have to fight it everyday.
When God says he will provide, why do we so rarely have the courage to step out?

SCMartens said...

“We are destroying future generations for now, and forever.”

I was so moved by this man's testimony. I loved how he spoke with such conviction and yet seemed so gentle in how he forgave the past generation for it's actions and he pointed out that the people working on the oil field were lovely people who just needed to feed their families, but they were also painfully aware of the destruction they were part of.

I am saddened that this is a very real threat to our home, yet many who share that home with me are so quiet. I believe in the right to have your own opinion... BUT HAVE ONE... I detest that I could post a status on facebook about how hungover I am and have 10 "likes" and a handful of comments, yet a post about Enbridge seems to fall on deaf ears. Yes, people are given the right to care or not care, but if this pipeline goes through and there is a leak in one of our water systems, or a tanker can't make the treacherous pass and then spills into our ocean- EVERYONE WILL CARE.

Thank you for posting this. I have been disheartened by the seeming lack of concern over this, but I am living in New Zealand and even I have caught wind of it (and no, I have not been frequenting vancouver news... i saw a video on twitter, but now I have been keeping up).

I believe it vital to stand for something and not to be scared away by the bullies who have practiced their arguments. I too do not know all the facts, but my heart, my gut, are fearful for nature- I am moved to tears over the beauty of nature and I am enraged by this threat.

It's nice to know that someone else is giving it some thought.