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REPORTING · 16th January 2012
Walter McFarlane
The second presenter at the Joint review panel was the delegation from Douglas Channel Watch. Sitting before the panel were Murry Minchin, Dieter Wagner, David Shannon, Margaret Ouwahand and Cherryl Brown

Murry Minchin

Minchin started his presentation. “We are the radical environmentalists and you know, as such, we believe that there should maybe be a balanced playing field in this event or through this process, so we will be taking $100 million offers from foreign interests to make this a balanced playing field from the monies that the Proponent had available to them to initiate this proposal, so just putting that out there,” said Minchin.

Minchin explained his past. The power of this environment around Kitimat brought him back here. He’s hiked rivers and creeks. He said this place is loaded with places which are beautiful on a small scale. The wilderness changes the perception of the world.

He started sharing his experiences in the wild with the JRP. Traveling through the woods with his daughter, experiencing bears, humpback whales and his concerns with what could jeopardize it.

Minchin put on a slide show of photos, his first one expressed there is a lot of fresh water flowing into the Douglas channel and the density of the salt is not as high. Each picture in the slide show told a story and showed the environment of this area.

He explained the snow here is a force of nature. There are large snowfalls. Logging roads become in-accessible. The length of our winters could also hinder the petroleum industry because in the case of a spill, both the pipes and oil will be under the ice and invisible until it gets to Kitimat.

He explained the storms on the Douglas channel are strong enough to push the trees up onto the beach. He asked them to consider what the storms would do to large ships. He said there are severe risks in this are. The seismicity of the area is questionable.

He told them this proposal was in the wrong place. Just because Kitimat is the first choice does not make it the right choice. He expected Kitimat will recover from the environmental problems.

“To risk so much for so little short term gain is not part of my mindset. I can’t comprehend that,” said Minchin. “So what possible circumstances are there to risk such a place and to risk so many First Nations cultures?”

He said it was unkind to add risk to a natural area which is trying to heal itself. He stated this was a part of history and thanked them for their time.

Dieter Wagner

Wagner was the second speaker from Douglas Channel Watch. He introduced himself. He wished to speak on the route safety first. Wagner explained the Suez Canal was a poor example as it does not have three ninety degree turn or extreme tides. Wagner started describing the Northern route.

Wagner explained the route is 300 kilometres long. While the route looks like it is wide open, it is not. He pointed out the ocean is not colour coated like his maps which he displayed on the overhead. Everything looks wider and it is open to the waves and winds. However it is not Open Ocean.

The winds hit 140 kilometres per hour with waves higher then ten metres. He expressed the channel gets long and narrow and dangerous. He explained what the region is like. The area is even named after the hazards. It is tricky to navigate.

He showed them the map where the Queen of the North sank, where the Petersfield hit the shoreline bashing in its bow.

On the southern route, he explained there was a place where an Alcan vessel was gashed open. TERMPOL recommended the route be used only in moderate weather conditions.

He pointed out the tankers go against the governments requests to reduce fuel consumption. He pointed out there was an island on the southern route and the region where there are waves measured in excess of 100 feet.

David Shannon

Shannon spoke next on the topic of Corrosion and Double Hulled Tankers. He spoke about his own experience and how he got interested in metallurgy after he saw a boat with rust layered on it like a sandwich.

He explained how double hulled tankers were supposed to work and how they are difficult to inspect. There was a lot of ways these ships to become corroded. The tankers are as long as the Eiffel tower is large. The bottom of the tankers is always wet and muddy. Underneath the mud is bacteria which can introduce corrosion.

The inner hull is usually made cheaper and is thinner. There are a lot of places for corrosion to take place between the hulls and there is a greater chance for corrosion on a double hull then a single hull. There is a potential for an acid to form inside the tanker. Microbes could also eat through a doubled hulled tanker. The cargo tank is usually covered with a corrosion proof epoxy. A flaw can cause them to go pretty fast.

Shannon completed his presentation with one last 100 year old quote: "I cannot imagine any condition which would cause this ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to the vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that," was the quote. It came from Captain Edward smith, captain of the Titanic.

Margaret Ouwahand

Ouwahand went next. She introduced herself. She talked about the oil pipeline from the 70s and how it was presented in a similar way to Enbridge. Kitimat has lived without fear of oil spill for 33 years.

“Our beautiful environment is here for all Canadians to enjoy. We can't let it be ruined by an industry that cares only about money. Once again, our rivers, our channel, our wildlife, the First Nations way of life as well as that of those of us who are relative newcomers, all are being threatened,“ said Ouwahand

She explained the history of Douglas Channel Watch, all from different backgrounds. A grass roots organization. She was displeased with the untruths being spread. The land will be around long after the oil has been depleted. She asked them to say no to the Enbridge project.

Cherryl Brown

Brown introduced herself and told the panel what she was going to present on. She told them how she learned how citizens should speak up and speak their concerns. Brown expressed the Northern Gateway Project is different then land management and explained how.

She expressed the Community Advisory Boards are driven by Enbridge, bringing information to the public but not answering the hard questions.

She was upset with the way the Federal Government was calling people with concerns about the project radical ideologists.

“As a person who believes in citizen involvement and as a work to enable it this interference is unbelievable and it is beyond my previous experience. It is an interference in a process that the government itself has set up,” said Brown.

Brown expressed the JRP are hard working individuals who will make a good decisions but she said she is losing confidence in this process from her own past experience.

While the Douglas Channel Watch gave their presentation, they were not always giving the JRP what they asked for. The purpose of this hearing was for oral evidence of information which could not necessarily be written down.