I finished six intense hours cross-examining Enbridge/Northern Gateway panel on their human health risk assessment from oil spills. I was the only intervenor, out of the 221 registered, questioning the risk assessment. I did not represent any organization and did not receive any funding for the enormous amount of work it entailed.
The reviewable material was forbidding. Presented late in July 2012, it conveniently escaped the two legal rounds of information requests from intervenors. However, it became clear that, drowned in pages of tables of toxic references values (TRV) and Cancer Slope Factors (CSF) for chemicals with names impossible to pronounce, there was very little substance to review.
Ecological and Human Risk Assessment from oil spills were presented together. Out of 126 references for both, only 12 directly related to human health. Worse, there was no description of what those health effects could be, apart from a vague mention that every single organ of our body could be affected. They omitted to mention burn and asphyxiation from an explosion from the condensate pipeline planned to traverse communities like Burns Lake.
The word “pregnant” is found only once and foetus exposure ignored. The whole assessment is based on the unreliable TRVs and CSF which do not exist for all the compounds present in the tar sand products planned to be transported. Worse, numbers can vary widely from one year to another, like the CSF value for the very toxic benzene shown at 0.226 in the Enbridge assessment and 0.0834 by Health Canada in 2012.
Finally the expert, who had problematic credentials I had previously flagged to the JRP, admitted he had listed as his last publication of 1997, an article which was never published. This only minutes after having sworn under oath the accuracy of his evidence and resume.
The JRP is showing much leniency towards Enbridge. The company is clearly showing it is not worth our trust. Transcripts of the cross-examination (Feb 28 and March 1, Vol 147 and 148) can be viewed on the JRP Panel http://gatewaypanel.review-examen.gc.ca/clf-nsi/prtcptngprcss/hrng-eng.html
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