The health of the waterways in Metro Vancouver could be catastrophically affected by a large oil spill in the future. People have started to notice the recent increase in oil tanker traffic passing under the Lions Gate Bridge and Second Narrows Bridge. Over the last year about two giant (up to 700,000-barrel capacity) oil tankers traverse Burrard Inlet every week to take delivery of oil via the Kinder Morgan pipeline at a terminal in North Burnaby. There are plans to further increase oil tanker traffic, increase the pipeline capacity and port infrastructure, and allow for even larger 1,000,000-barrel capacity tankers by dredging Burrard Inlet at Second Narrows. Some of the oil is from the Alberta Tar Sands.
A rally at the site of the oil terminal was held on August 27th, 2011, at 2pm. One of the organizers behind the event, the Council of Canadians has a summary of this event in the press release: Lower Mainland Pipeline Protest Focuses on Kinder Morgan. Between 150-200 people marched from East Hastings and Inlet Drive, to the Kinder Morgan Oil Terminal, and then to the site of the pipeline spill that occurred in 2007. Several videos and a photo slideshow from the event are below.
A quick summary of the facts surrounding the pipeline expansion by Rex Weyler can be viewed below:
In another speech, 10-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney explains the issues at hand (another video at the end of the article shows Ta’Kaiya Blaney performing two of her songs live, click on ‘Continue reading’):
The toll of tar sands oil extraction on human health is very real; the following video is a first hand recollection of the dangers of exposure to tar sands. Populations around the tar sands have been ravaged by increases in cancer and other ailments and by premature deaths.
Ben West of the Wilderness Committee briefly explains the plans that are underway to further increase pipeline capacity and tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet:
Musician and songwriter Ta’Kaiya Blaney performs two of her songs live in front of the oil tanker terminal:
Organizers noted that oil tanker exports picked up in 2007 when Petro China and Canada agreed to what they called testing the feasibility of shipping tar sands oil out of Vancouver through Burrard Inlet. They said that everywhere in the world where there is a shipping port, the inlets die. More oil is spilled in normal operations than from giant oil spills in the oil shipping industry. The rupturing of the oil pipeline in Burnaby back in 2007 illustrates that eventually a major oil spill in Burrard Inlet could occur. Organizers where convinced that it is not a question of if there will be a spill in Burrard Inlet, but rather of when it will happen.
Last year when oil tanker traffic began to increase the CBC carried the story Concern rising over oil tankers in Vancouver waters. More information on oil tanker traffic in BC waters is also available at the Dogwood Initiative, Tanker Free BC, or The Council of Canadians.
[Update 31-Aug-2011] Further information is available in the Straight.com article Lindsay O’Donnell: Saying no to oil sands pipelines.