Océans en santé. Communautés en santé

Transport Canada’s nod of approval for Northern Gateway tankers misleads Canadians

February 24, 2012

Sointula, B.C. – Transport Canada’s review of the marine transportation components for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project offers empty reassurances on the safety of the proposed oil tanker routes. Due to the fact that the studies reviewed were paid for and conducted by Enbridge, it is unsurprising that a summary of the reports supports Enbridge’s position.

Transport Canada’s conclusion assumes that Enbridge will implement all safety recommendations, yet Enbridge is legally allowed to ignore them. Enbridge will not be responsible for the tankers or for cleaning up any oil they spill. Once the oil leaves the pipeline, Enbridge is absolved from all risk. The vessels and their cargo are the responsibility of the ships’ owners. When a spill occurs, Enbridge can watch from the shoreline as Canadian taxpayers are left with the bill for cleanup and compensation costs.

“The public is being asked to trust a company that has no liability for the marine aspects of its project, including oil tankers,” said Katie Terhune, Energy Campaign Manager for Living Oceans Society. “Why would anyone trust a company with a horrible record for oil spills that has preached empty promises before?”

Additionally, many of the proposed safety measures rely on support from the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communication and Traffic Service Centres, who monitor vessel traffic on the coast and respond during emergency situations. But the federal government has recently announced de-staffing of these centres across the coast.

History has shown that accidents happen. No one foresaw the demise of the state-of-the-art passenger ferry Queen of the North, which crashed into Gil Island along the proposed tankers route in 2006, yet the vessel is still polluting the region to this day.



Katie Terhune, Living Oceans Society, 250-973-6580


The TERMPOL (Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems and Transhipment Sites) process is a voluntary review process in which proponents involved in building and operating a marine terminal system for bulk handling of oil, chemicals and liquefied gases can participate. It focuses on the marine transportation components of a project. The findings and recommendations of a TERMPOL report are not binding and the proponent may choose to adopt one or more of them.

TERMPOL studies do not address:

  • Liability or compensation - Enbridge has no responsibility for the tankers and is not liable for cleanup or compensation costs in the event of a spill.

Oil spill preparedness and response measures - The Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (of the Office of the Auditor General) found that Transport Canada, Environment Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard are not prepared to deal with a major spill.