National Energy Board
Reconsideration of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Project
re: West Coast Oil Tanker Impacts
7083 Briarwood Place, Sooke, BC, V9Z 0T2
Please find attached comments from a Sooke, BC resident who lives approximately 200 meters from the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I am the former president (2013-2018) of the Sooke Transition Town Society, an entirely volunteer-run non-profit dedicated to local people, strengths and solutions. In 2014, our organization called for the creation of a District of Sooke plebiscite question related to increased oil tanker traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That question was included on the Nov. 15, 2014 municipal ballot; a two-thirds majority (2,618 voters) asked the District to continue its lobbying efforts to halt increases in the volume of JDF oil tanker traffic.
Local residents and organizations (including Transition Sooke, the Sooke chapter of Dogwood BC and the non-partisan Save Our Coast - Sooke group) have continued to express their love of our marine environment and fears about oil tanker impacts. Initatives have included solstice candlelight vigils, an Orca art-making project involving adults and children, film nights and a steady flow of witnesses and commentators at Kinder Morgan presentations in Sooke.
Elected officials in the Sooke region have repeatedly expressed concerns about the downstream (read: off-shore) impacts of the TMX pipeline expansion. These have been formalized in submissions to local, regional and provincial authorities, the National Energy Board included. Sooke's resolution calling for a halt to additional oil tanker traffic in coastal BC waters was passed unanimously at the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Sept., 2015.
The following point-form notes summarize actions taken to date. Some material above has been drawn from Transition Sooke's 2014 plebscite advocacy package (Authorized by Let BC Vote 2014, registered sponsor under LECFA.)
- 78% of West Coast marine vessel traffic passes through the Juan de Fuca Strait (920 ships a month, 100 of them tankers).Tanker traffic through the Strait will increase sevenfold (to as many as 400 tankers per year) if Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion is approved.
- The District of Sooke held a plebiscite in November, 2014. The ballot question read: "“Should Sooke join other municipalities in renewing and restating its opposition to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through coastal BC waters?" 2,618 Sooke residents voted 'yes' and 1,137 voted 'no.'
- Metchosin, Esquimalt, View Royal, Saanich, Victoria, Oak Bay, North Saanichand the Islands Trust(representing 12 southern and northern Gulf Islands) have passed resolutions opposing increased tanker traffic.
- Union of B.C. Municipalities, Sept. 28, 2012 – Passed a resolution to “oppose projects that would lead to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through BC’s coastal waters” and “urge the Premier of British Columbia, the Leader of the Official Opposition and members of the Legislative Assembly to use whatever legislative and administrative means that are available to stop the expansion of oil tanker traffic.”
- Transport Canada says the southern tip of Vancouver Island is most at riskfor a major oil spill if the Kinder Morgan pipeline is approved (Times Colonist, 30/01/2014).
- The current response time if a spill occurs in Juan de Fuca Strait is 18-72 hours+ travel time depending on size of the spill. An emergency response station at Beecher Bay will improve this, of course, and yet recovery efforts in bad weather (routine between October and March) will be difficult in the notorious "Graveyard of the Pacific."
- Even in calm waters, the unpredictable behaviour of bitumen makes it a huge challenge to recover. Speaking in Sooke in the winter of 2015, a representative for the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation acknowledged that its projections suggest that just 20 percent of a spill can be recovered before oil (bitumen especially) disperses into the marine environment.
- Alaska is still cleaning up its oil spill after 25 years; a Kinder Morgan super-tanker would carry three times the amount of oil carried by the Exxon Valdez. Clean-up costs (as quoted by Fortune Magazine) were $3.5 billion ($6.3b in inflation-adjusted dollars today).
- According to Transport Canada, shipowners are liable for clean-up costs up to the maximum of $1.36 billion available to them through shipowners' liability, International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds and Canada's Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund. Taxpayers will be on the hook for additional costs.
- There’s no such thing as a fool-proof oil tanker. A report by BC’s Living Oceans Society found that double-hull tankers can be at increased risk for certain types of accidents, including ones caused by human error.
- Increased tanker traffic would disrupt commercial fishing and decrease marine tourism; an oil spill would devastate Sooke’s local economy, property values, tourism, fishing, and marine life.
- B.C.’s seafood and ocean recreation sectors employ more than 45,000 people in contrast to the 560 long-term jobs promised by Enbridge.
- The oil and gas industry make up only 6% of Canada’s GDP and 1% of BC’s workforce is employed in oil, mining and gas (CRED Report 2014)
- BC employs 123,000 people in “green jobs” ($15 billion in GDP - 2011)
- The sectors showing most growth in BC according to KPMG are: Construction, high tech, finance/real estate, retail trade, professional/scientific/technical services.
Quotes from Sooke-area elected representatives, business people and citizens
- “There have been a number of near misses recorded in recent years, so I believe it is inevitable that a major collision will occur in the future.” – Sooke Mayor Wendal Milne
- “Increased crude oil tanker traffic will only increase the odds of an environmental catastrophe.” - JDF Regional Director Mike Hicks
- “Are we really willing to put our biggest asset, the ocean, at risk? And for what reason? This community will see no benefits, but may have to deal with the negative impact.” – Sooke councillorMaja Tait
- “Our rich algae beds require extreme protection to preserve a huge number of marine species and our oceans…Most people do not know that seaweeds and other algae produce more than 50% of the oxygen on the planet. Literally, we must protect them for the air that we breathe!” – Christine Hopkins, business owner
- “The lure of fast money is irresistible. We’ve fought back against these kinds of proposals before, and I’m sure we’ll have to do so again and again.” – David Anderson, former federal Minister of the Environment
- "The tourism sector generates $2.2 billion and more than 60,000 jobs annually for the Vancouver Island economy, according to Tourism Vancouver Island. An oil spill could seriously jeopardize these benefits for years to come.” - Mark Zeigler, Rotary Club of Sooke
(on behalf of himself)