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Proposed Kitimat Refinery Trial Balloon Does Not Address Threats from Enbridge Pipeline and Tanker Project

Friday, August 17, 2012

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - A refinery in Kitimat is the latest attempt to build support for the Northern Gateway pipeline that has been fiercely opposed by First Nations, communities, and people across BC. Kitimat Clean, a fledgling BC company whose website went live just this morning, has proposed a refinery that might possibly be built sometime in the future, but only if the Enbridge Northern gateway pipeline is approved now.

"This refinery is the most recent act of desperation to buy support for the Enbridge pipeline," says Josh Paterson of West Coast Environmental Law. "The Enbridge project has a trust problem. This brand new company won't build trust by holding a surprise press conference in Vancouver to tell communities hundreds of kilometers away that a massive oil refinery is coming their way, or by filing for government approval before they've consulted with communities. BC is not for sale and the right decision would be for Enbridge to cancel its pipeline and supertanker project."

This refinery will not reduce the threat that has galvanized opposition. There would still be a pipeline carrying tar sands oil to the coast and there would still be oil tankers going through Douglas Channel. The only difference is 550,000 barrels of refined oil that floats instead of bitumen that sinks would be on the supertankers.

"Kitimat Clean, like Enbridge, is asking the people of BC to carry the risk. They want to see the pipeline built and then, maybe, if they can jump through all the hoops, they will build a refinery that might slightly reduce the risk of an oil spill, killing seabirds instead of smothering the seabed," says Karen Wristen of Living Oceans Society. "Does not sound very clean to me."

This refinery is a long way from being approved. Kitimat Clean has not received the approval of First Nations nor do they have support from Enbridge. Kitimat Clean would still have to undergo a provincial environmental assessment, and they have not secured a financial backer. According to the company spokespeople, they need to have the pipeline approved in order to build the refinery, which could mean 5 years or more of the pipeline in existence without the refinery.

"This project is at the beginning of a long road of seeking approval and they have not even begun consulting with First Nations," says Art Sterritt, Executive Director of Coastal First Nations. "Announcing this project this early in the game seems more like a PR stunt to build support for the pipeline than a real commitment to the First Nations, the communities, and the environment."

First Nations and environmental groups have tracked Enbridge's numerous attempts to get support for this pipeline and super tanker project, despite overwhelming opposition from First Nations, communities, and BC residents. They voiced concern about Enbridge's multi million dollar ad campaigns, their misrepresentation of the risks from oil tankers - including misleading advertising - their poor track record on oil spills on land, and their support for gutting of environmental legislation.

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Contact Information

West Coast Environmental Law
Josh Paterson
Staff Lawyer
604-601-2512

Living Oceans Society
Karen Wristen
Executive Director
604-992-6534

Coastal First Nations
Art Sterritt
Executive Director
604-635-9110