Transporting, Processing and Shipping BC's Natural Gas Almost as Dangerous as Alberta's Tar Sands

Coastal First Nations members blockading pipeline surveyors

In addition to all the other problems surrounding BC's LNG boondoggle there's the reality that transporting the unprocessed gas as as well as processing it and shipping the processed LNG associated BC's proposed LNG projects would have significant impacts on both land and water. The Dogwood Initiative report on the dangers of LNG transport outlines many of the serious dangers involved that are being overlooked at the moment perhaps because there are so many other huge gaping wounds in the logic of BC's LNG proposals.

For example, no matter how carefully they construct the Pacific Trail Pipeline the building of a 500km pipeline through virgin forest and over hundreds of waterways guarantees the destruction of a huge tract of wilderness which will result in habitat loss, species extinctions and groundwater pollution. A natural gas pipeline rupture wouldn't spill toxic tar sands crud but it would be highly flammable and accordingly would require a wide right-of-way to ensure that an explosion wouldn't start a forest fire disaster. Add to that the accompanying right of way for the power lines from the Site C dam necessary and you have one hell of a huge scar across BC.

A huge scar and a huge logging/clearing operation providing some temporary jobs and requiring lots of costly equipment to be financed. A win for the IWA, the truckers, the log exporters, the equipment manufactures, and the bankers, all of whom are cheerleaders for the project. The flora and fauna from microbes to fish to bears to birds to...are the losers and, as always, the silent victims.

Then there's the processing into LNG which itself has a huge footprint both in area destroyed for construction and the pollution caused by it's operation. Here too there are winners and losers. The Haisla First Nation who would see Shell's Kitimat LNG Terminal  built on Haisla reserve land would receive lease money and jobs both in construction and ongoing operation which is why the Haisla First Nation has parted ways with an aboriginal advocacy group, saying its interests no longer align with Coastal First Nations. The Haisla have been bought off but as the Coastal First Nations website clearly says the other members haven't. The Haisla, who still oppose the Northern Gateway Pipeline, might be well advised to remember that their concerns about the Tar Sands crud have been supported by other First Nations across BC and remember that similar ecological concerns are now being faced by First Nations in Northeast BC due to the groundwater and methane pollution there.

Finally there's all the LNG tankers who are just as subject to running aground in the world's 4th most dangerous waterway between Kitimat and the open ocean. Those tankers wouldn't spill Tar Sands crud but the LNG itself is so explosive, so dangerous, that international shipping regulations require all other vessels out of the area which would cripple the FN fisheries, the BC Ferries and the shipping of all goods and people in/out of Kitimat. Scientists have also documented the considerable deleterious effects on marine life that just sailing these huge tankers and their fleet of tugs would have even if there was no disaster. These tankers wouldn't be shipping crud but they would still have thousands of gallons of dirty fuel and so would the tugs and every ship everywhere has 'small' fugitive leakage. An LNG tanker wouldn't have to explode or sink to cause an environmental catastrophe just their everyday presence would, over time, do the trick.

Winners and losers, the few, the industrialists, the bankers, the unions and the political parties they support win, but in every case the many, our cousins the flora and fauna, the microbes and the faeries lose.