Friday, 21 January 2011 12:27

Enbridge called to produce paper work - The Prince George Citizen

Written by Hermann

Enbridge called to produce more paperwork

The federal panel reviewing Enbridge’s proposed $5.5-billion Northern Gateway oil pipeline has called on the company to file more information on the pipeline’s design and risks.

The three-person panel made the determination following input from public sessions last fall that included Prince George.

Enbridge must submit the additional information before the review will move to the public hearing stage.

The requirement will increase the length of the review, already expected to take two years.

“In our review, the filed conceptual design of the pipeline system does not adequately address project-specific challenges and risks,” the panel wrote in its 24-page decision released Wednesday.

The panel said the application also does not integrate the risk assessment with the consequences on the environment and people from spills along the pipeline and at the marine terminal.

“Because these challenges and risks are not sufficiently identified, integrated and addressed in the application, the mitigative and preventative measures in the application cannot be reasonably assessed,” said the three-person panel chaired by Sheila Leggett, a National Energy Board member.

The National Energy Board is the lead agency in the federal review, which is a co-operative effort with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

The panel noted that more than half the 1,170-kilometre pipeline route traverses mountainous terrain, mostly in British Columbia.

The panel also noted the route crosses areas where there are high risks of avalanches, slides and earthquakes; unique environmental habitats important to fish; and communities dependent on the land.

Also on the panel’s list of characteristics that make the project unique:
■ The construction of tunnels through the Coastal mountains;
■ The high flow rate of 20,000 barrels per hour of oil, and 8,000 barrels per hour of condensate;
■ The potential for far-reaching environmental and human consequences if there is a spill of oil or condensate in populated or environmentally-sensitive areas;
■ And difficult access to the pipeline in all seasons.

The panel held preliminary hearings in Prince George, Kitimat and Whitecourt, Alta. in August and September to get input on issues to be reviewed.

The review list has also been expanded to include consultation with the public and Aboriginal groups as a separate issue.

The panel said it is not adding the environmental effects of expanded Alberta oil sands development, or the downstream impacts of oil sales from the Northern Gateway pipeline.

The panel also said there is no requirement to have commercial commitments in place for the project to be reviewed.

That issue is covered off under the requirement to demonstrate need for the project, said the panel.

All were highlighted as concerns during the fall input sessions.

Enbridge has already filed more than 14,000 pages of documents.

Enbridge spokesperson Gina Jordan said the company just received the panel’s findings. After reviewing them, the company may comment, she said.


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