Accidents just waiting to happen off the B.C. coast

It doesn’t matter about the quality of technology with large tankers

In 1978, I was a cameraman on a documentary for the CBC called ‘Tankerbomb.’

We travelled on a U.S.A. supertanker from Valdez, Alaska to Cherry Point, Washington. The supertanker had a deck the size of three football fields and it takes four miles to make a turn and 17 miles to come to a stop.

We documented how a very sophisticated double hulled tanker with a crash computer on board almost had a major catastrophe, colliding with the Washington State ferry Kuleetan which was on its way to Vancouver Island in the fog.

The ferry crew was unaware it was on a collision course, not hearing the frantic calls from the tanker and coast guard. Last minute they heard the warning and reversed the engines as the tanker, the “World Leader”, with 400,000 litres of crude oil in its tanks missed a major catastrophic collision. The crash would have polluted the mouth of the Fraser River, killing millions of salmon amassing for the spring run.

My concern is the Enbridge Pipeline is just the tip of the iceberg for the real potential disaster awaiting us when the bitumen oil is transported by tankers. Aside from tankers navigating in congested coastal waters, the potential is there for huge storms, earthquakes, a tsunami like the one that devastated Japan.

We have tectonic plates moving off shore. A huge wall of water could fling a disabled tanker on the rocks, or cut it in half. If there is an oil spill at this time, the technology is not there to clean it up. Bitumen does not float, it sinks and could wash up on the shore for years.

What’s in it for the people of B.C.? Absolutely nothing but disaster. It’s a pipeline we don’t need or want. What an insane project, shipping the raw bitumen when it could be processed in our country. It’s just as stupid as exporting raw logs.

Bob Ennis,


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