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Safety regulations not up to speed with massive escalation of resource extraction

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Industry and government proponents of these dams tout them as ‘clean energy’ sources. But the claims are bogus because the whole purpose of the dams is to increase energy demand and consumption for industrial and commercial purposes. In the case of Site C, the ‘clean energy’ claim is doubly bogus because Site will be used, in part, to power plans to vastly expand natural gas fracking in the BC northeast and transport it by pipeline to the BC coast for liquefaction and export to Asia. (See 'We'll fight Site C regardless of review', letter to Vancouver Sun, Jan. 30, 2014, by Liz Logan, chief of Treaty 8 Tribal Association.)

Site C will flood some 3,000 hectares of agricultural land as well as Aboriginal hunting and fishing grounds, ancient burial sites and locations where traditional medicinal plants are harvested.  Treaty 8 Tribal Chief Liz Logan made an impassioned plea against the dam on January 24 to the closing session of a federal/provincial review panel of the proposal.

Treaty 8 was signed in 1899 and covers a vast territory larger than France in northeast BC, northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, and southern Northwest Territories. In BC, there are eight Treaty 8 signatory First Nations, with a population of app. 3,800.

Meanwhile a major battle is ongoing in Canada’s Yukon Territory over the Peel River Watershed, one of the last, remaining wilderness areas in North America that is untouched by industrial development. Two Yukon first nations and two conservation groups are taking the territorial government to court over its stated plan to open up the big majority of the watershed’s 70,000 square kilometers of territory to mining, pipeline and other industrial development.

The legal action was announced in Vancouver on January 27. Heading the legal team is Thomas Berger, the venerable, former federal judge who headed a landmark inquiry during the mid-1970s into a gas pipeline proposed for the Yukon and Mackenzie river valleys in the Northwest Territories. Berger’s report recommended a moratorium on any such plan.

To date, no Mackenzie Valley pipeline has been built, but in 2010, the National Energy Board made a favorable recommendation for Imperial Oil’s stated wish to build one. Plans for a gas liquefaction industry on the BC coast have only increased industry lust to proceed.

There are at least three factors that can cause pipeline ruptures: corrosion of the pipe caused by surrounding soil conditions or the product flowing through; shifts in the ground caused by earthquakes, sinkholes or melting permafrost; and human digging on or near pipeline routes.

Commenting on the Manitoba explosion, Environmental Defence’s Adam Scott told the Canadian Press he is concerned with TCPL’s safety record. Among other issues, a former engineer at the company blew the whistle on TransCanada last year, speaking out against the company's violations of pipeline building codes by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

“I don’t know why communities or provinces would trust this company to be safe,” Scott said.

“This just reminds Canadians that this infrastructure is risky, inherently, and they need to be thinking about whether or not they actually want to be building more of this…”

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