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REPORTING · 20th September 2012
Walter McFarlane
Murray Minchin got up to address Kitimat Council on Recent Seismic Information in Douglas Channel at the Regular Meeting of Council on September 17th.

“The Federal Government’s Department of Justice recently filed a notice of motion with the Joint Review Panel Hearing evidence on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Proposal. The Department of Justice requested permission to submit a new Natural Resources Canada report which is entitled: ‘Sub Marine Slope Failures and Tsunami Hazard in Coastal British Columbia in the Douglas Channel and Kitimat Arm,’” said Minchin.

He explained Natural Resources Canada has been doing a high definition survey of the bottom of the Douglas Channel. Two large sub marine land slides and a 50 kilometre fault line were discovered. The slides were over 31 kilometres in size and were capable of producing tsunamis over 8 metres in height. Because they were close to a fault, these were assumed to be caused by earthquakes.

Minchin stated the reports were only preliminary reports and further events may be found during a full study of the scans.

“They also suggest that additional research is required in Douglas Channel. They stated and I quote: ‘This paper presents the results of a preliminary investigation of geological hazards within this environment. The results are intended to support land use stewards, regulatory agencies and others in making informed decisions about land use development, environmental protection and public safety,’” said Minchin, quoting the document.

He told Council how Enbridge has stated they will not build in a seismically active area. He also quoted Enbridge’s earthquake report from 2001: “Based on available information, there have been no tsunami events in the Kitimat arm, which are known to be associated with historical earthquake occurrences in the region or elsewhere world wide.”

Minchin pointed out Bill C38 has put a time limit on the Joint Review Panel Hearings. This means the assessment of the hazards may not be understood before the time limit for an informed decision is up.

He also told Council their decision to wait for the Joint Review Panel’s to make a decision puts them in an extreme position, since the Joint Review Panel has been made powerless to stop the Northern Gateway Proposal because they can only make a recommendation to a government who has stated they will approve the project anyway.

He asked Council to influence the Joint Review Panel to allow Natural Resources Canada the time to complete their study of the Seismic hazards of Douglas Channel. He said this report would be good for the people of Kitimat because a tsunami could affect both Service Centre and Kildala Neighbourhood.

He also pointed out recent occurrences have called into question Council’s Neutrality. He asked Council if any of them had shares of Enbridge Stock.

“I would also like to know if there is any information forthcoming if the District of Kitimat may be held liable for super tanker spills in the Douglas Channel if found negligent as the operator and manager of the Private Port of Kitimat,” said Minchin.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff stated all the Councillors have done a quarterly financial disclosure. Councillor Mary Murphy wanted to know who did the study as University of Wyoming had done a three year study.

Minchin stated it was done by Natural Resources Canada. They were concerned about increased shipping and the last marine charts were outdated. They decided to get details of the hazards on the floor of the Channel and found the massive slides which no one was aware of. He added the University of Wyoming was looking at a different aspect of the project.

Councillor Rob Goffinet wanted to know how long the research would take. Minchin replied he does not know. However, Bill C38 has put a time limit on the panel. The information means more to Kitimat then just the pipeline however, it also could assist planning for emergencies. He pointed out it looks like the Federal Government will be putting forward their decision before all the information is in.

Acting Mayor Corrine Scott wanted to know about one of the earlier points. Minchin stated the Port of Kitimat was not a private port. This would mean the District of Kitimat was the manager of the port of Kitimat. Minchin wanted to know if the District of Kitimat was liable in the case of an accident because they were negligent in their duties of the private port.

Feldhoff responded: “There is not a Private Port of Kitimat. The Private Port of Kitimat is composed of individual shippers, you have RTA, you have others, who are managing their facilities. There is not an organization that I’m aware of, that, as an entity or a board of directors and what have you that would describe the situation as you have portrayed it,” said Feldhoff.

“That’s interesting because in Enbridge’s proposal for this Northern Gateway Project, they state the District of Kitimat is the Manager/Operator of the Private Port of Kitimat and if not who, then who is?” asked Minchin.

Feldhoff wanted to see this report in writing so nothing is caught out of context. Minchin promised to dig through his 8 foot high volume of information to find it. Minchin suggested Council ask who is responsible for the port. Feldhoff stated he thought he knew who was but would not divulge until Minchin provided his details because it was Minchin’s question.

Feldhoff believed the shippers were responsible. Minchin asked Council if they could find out the information. Scott promised him they would.