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Northern Gateway dismisses report on risk of oil spills

Clean-up operations after the April, 2011, Rainbow Pipeline rupture and oil spill near Peace River, Alta.

Jimmy Jeong/

John Carruthers, president of Northern Gateway Pipelines, has dismissed a report by Simon Fraser University that calls into doubt the oil-spill risk assessments done by Enbridge.

In a written statement, Mr. Carruthers attacks the study by Dr. Thomas Gunton, director of the School of Resource and Environmental Management at SFU.

"We are very concerned about the misleading report released by Tom Gunton, who also was a witness for the Coastal First Nations organization during the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel process," states Mr. Carruthers.

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He said Northern Gateway experts "have identified a number of omissions, flawed assumptions and modelling errors in the study and have serious concerns with its conclusions."

Specifically, Mr. Carruthers states that the spill probability numbers in the SFU report are inflated.

"The authors use oil-throughput volumes that are nearly 40 per cent higher than those applied for in this project which also inflates the number of tanker transits using these inflated volumes," he states.

The study, released Thursday, concluded that if the Northern Gateway pipeline is built, there will be more spills than Enbridge has predicted.

Dr. Gunton said the study applied an internationally accepted U.S. model, known as the Oil Spill Risk Analysis, and used Enbridge's own numbers to calculate the risk.

His report concludes there would be a tanker spill every 10 years, not once in 250 years, as calculated by Enbridge.

And the study predicts 776 oil and condensate spills from pipelines over 50 years, not 25 spills over 50 years as projected by Enbridge.

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Dr. Gunton said the report took over a year to complete and it was not ready in time to be submitted as evidence before the federal Joint Review Panel which is now examining the proposed pipeline.

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About the Author
National correspondent

Mark Hume is a National Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver, writing news and feature stories on a daily basis about his home province of British Columbia. His weekly column, which often challenges the orthodoxy on environmental issues, appears every Monday. More


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