Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What We Need to See For Starters

Tankers, safe? No.

Even double hulled ships can founder in many ways. Their hulls can still be pierced by rocky projections, especially if they're battered against those rocks repeatedly in stormy seas. They can lose steerage. It does happen. They can suffer engine failure at a critical moment. Fires always pose a problem given that tankers are full of stuff intended to burn.

Now, a government that goes to some lengths to assure anxious citizens that an armada of heavily laden, clumsy supertankers can safely navigate the Strait of Georgia needs to tell those citizens, in detail, real detail, what happens when things go wrong. What happens if one of their tankers is broken on the rocks in a storm? What happens if there's a collision with another ship? What happens if the ship experiences a major fire? What happens if that tanker sinks?

The Georgia Strait, the passage these tankers will ply, has a maximum depth of 447 metres or a little over 1,665 feet. The mean depth is only 515 feet.

So, what do you do if you have a dilbit laden tanker broken in two lying on its side in 1,665 feet of water that's ripped by tides and currents? How do you make that safe? Have you got anything capable of handling a task that massive at those depths? If so, what? What if it's only at the mean, 515 feet. How do you make that safe? What have you got capable of handling that Herculean challenge? Nothing? That's what I thought.

What happens if those currents carry that dilbit out onto the seabed? How far will it go after a month, after three months, after a year?

We know that the marine food chain begins at the seabed. How much contamination will dilbit or just bitumen cause to the marine food chain? For how long? Decades, generations, essentially forever? How long does it take for the heavy metals and the carcinogens to leach out? How do those deadly elements enter the food chain? How do they work their way up the food chain through bioconcentration? How long before it reaches the salmon, the orca and the humpbacks? What havoc will it wreak on the seals and sea lions, the porpoise and dolphins? What about the Dungeness crab and the giant Pacific octopus, the sidestripe and the spot prawns, the squid? What will it do to our oyster beds, our mussels and our scallops? Will it turn the main prey fish, the herring and the sardines, into toxic time bombs for those many species which, without them, cannot survive? Will it take weeks, months, a year? How long will it continue to contaminate the marine ecosystem, one of the richest in the world? Decades, generations, essentially forever?

Trudeau, McKenna, Garneau, that idiot Carr, they all ought to have verifiable answers (they have lied, a lot. they cannot be taken at their word) to each and every one of these questions. They ought to have those answers at their fingertips. They ought to have it published and a leaflet delivered to every home in the area.

What's their plan if this enters the human food chain? Are they planning on closing off the Strait, perhaps the Salish Sea, to the public, to boaters and sport fishermen? Are they going to tell the fishing boat owners and their crews, the sport fishing guides, the whale watching operators, to start flipping burgers and selling fries? What's the plan for those people?

We know that Dame Cathy has approved the use of Corexit as an oil spill dispersant. It's the same toxic garbage that was used on both the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters. It doesn't really disperse oil. It merely sinks it to the bottom. Research from the Gulf of Mexico revealed that Corexit makes oil some 52 times more toxic. However it does get oil out of sight  and out of sight is, supposely, out of mind. Just approving the use of Corexit is an admission, what lawyers call a declaration against interest. It is an admission that they haven't got a hope of cleaning up a dilbit spill.

How are you going to make this right with anybody, everybody affected? Who's going to put up the money? Notley? She's broke. Trudeau? Fat chance. He's the last guy anybody should trust. He breaks his word as easily and often as ordinary folks break wind only they're a good deal less noxious.

What about our First Nations? We celebrate them when they recreate the voyages of their ancestors in their majestic and massive cedar canoes. As far as they're concerned the Salish Sea is their ancestral waters. What are you going to do if you ruin that for them? How can you conceivably make that right? How do you place a price tag on someone's ancient birthright?

What about the precautionary principle, Justin? It's the law of the land, the law of Canada. Its purpose is to protect ordinary Canadians, their homes and their livelihoods, from reckless dumbasses like Trudeau and Notley and Kinder Morgan and the bitumen barons who can't answer these questions. The onus is on them to prove that this can be done safely.

As far as can be told, Justin imagines the precautionary principle may be the law of Canada, just not coastal British Columbia. We are apparently beyond the protection of that law as far as Trudeau is concerned. He and his minions and the corporations they serve aren't too keen on answering these fundamental questions because they all know, full well, what that would mean to their infernal pipeline.

Fuck that.


Update: I realize this is an angry post. Perhaps it should be tempered with a touch of levity. Here for your amusement is Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to Enviromin Cathy McKenna. Let the hilarity ensue.


Toby said...

Trudeau and crew treat BC as a banana republic. They simply view it as their right to force us to comply. When does the shooting start?

Have you read The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King?

King's argument is that business, governments and settlers want the land already occupied by First Nations people. The issue is not what the Indians want, it is what white people (predominately) want, Indian land.

Lorne said...

Until the mainstream media is willing to ask the tough questions you pose here, Mound, expect Trudeau and company to continue to assume they can get by on their reassurances. They are counting on Canadians to be indifferent or ignorant, or perhaps a combination of the two.

Northern PoV said...


Kill coal.
Pump solid bitumen pucks full of air bubbles so they float. Ship by rail.
Use the Tsawwassen coal term.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks for the link, Toby,but I'm so far behind on my reading I won't be getting to anything new for quite some time. So much to read, so little time.

The Mound of Sound said...

What I've found, Lorne, is that most journalists have at best a superficial grasp of these problems. We had a gaggle of people testify before the National Energy Board: Canadian Coast Guard, merchant mariners, RCN destroyer captains, and it was all for naught.

Yet this is why I consider Trudeau's pipeline initiative an act of aggression against this province and especially our coast.

The Mound of Sound said...

NPov - nice suggestions. Let me know when those ideas are on the table. Probably best not to hold my breath waiting.

Northern PoV said...

Don't worry, Mound.
This blog will get credit for hosting this idea as as seedling when it becomes the main solution. ;-)

Rural said...

"Fuck that" ........ Exactly Mound !

the salamander said...

.. almost every day, I laugh or chuckle over calamity
then I catch myself.. this is somebody's calamity
and it aint funny for them
and I retact and correct myself
in front of my truly significant other

What your essay outlines is calamity, Mound
and nobody in this household is laughing
As a former working resident of BC and of Alberta
as well as being many times, simply a tourist
experiencing adventure and excitement
I am in dismay at the bizarro frack n sack tar sands push

BC is the shining jewel.. as is PEI or Cape Breton
Would Ontarions allow Tobermory be put at risk?
How about Niagara Falls?

Maybe The Plains Of Abraham can be fracked & toxified
Can we rid Saskatchewan of the antelope?
And those darn moose infesting Manitoba
or the insidious beaver of the mainland maritimes
surely we cannot tolerate having wetlands or ducks
they take up space, quack and flap overhead
kind of like Canada Geese

And those darn caribou and wolves.. geez
and scary wild salmon, the herring will eat you alive
We are heading off the Richter Scale of political mania
in denial and turmoil .. rudderless and dangerous
Dangerous times.. the creatures just trying to survive

ffibs said...

Yesterday in QP the Libs retated the millions they have put aside for coastal waters protection and then said they were actively working on the protection plan. In other words they don't have one yet. A comment that the media didn't notice.
I mean shouldn't you of had the plan before you gave the approval

Deacon Jester said...

Our national news media remind me of US news media during the run up to the invasion of Iraq.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dangerous times indeed, Sal. The aggression being dished out to this province and, especially, coastal British Columbia by Trudeau and Notley is outrageous. They would happily put us in our place, a full measure beneath other provinces and other Canadians. Who wants to be a part of their country on these terms? Not I.

The Mound of Sound said...

I did catch that, Willy. They're essentially no further ahead than Harper's enviromin, Peter Kent, was in when he said they were working on it.

They're not working on it. That's bullshit. Environment Canada has put the lie to Trudeau and McKenna's claims by confirming that the essential research hasn't been done. The Royal Society backs up Environment Canada. Renowned ecologist, David Shindler corroborates those agencies. They haven't done the critical research or, if by some chance they have, they're sure as hell not going to let us see it.

Dame Cathy was interviewed on CBC when she said "we've looked at the science." What science? A load of crap spoonfed this prime minister and his cabinet by a sketchy Texas pipeline operator?

The Mound of Sound said...

Deacon, journalists competent on this problem are a rare breed. CBC usually hands it off to their business reporter, Pittis. The Globe invariably treats it as a business story. Do you imagine a broadcast journalist would be allowed enough time just to read the text I've written in this post? Not a chance.

Deacon Jester said...

I sent Pittis the info on VLCC LOOP. From an oil industry magazine not a blog. Crickets.

The corporate media are the corporate media and the schmucks taking the paycheques will always toe the line. And now it increasingly appears the CBC is just as corporate - a broadcast arm for the corporate state.

Trailblazer said...

IF, this goes ahead who will pay for the services?


The Mound of Sound said...

The fix was in years ago, Deacon, when the media collectively chose to mislabel the tar sands the "oil sands." It was more inaccurate than calling California's Le Brea the Le Brea Oil Pits. Bitumen is tar but it's tar laced with terrible components - heavy metals, acids, carcinogens and pet coke.The first known users were natives who used the goop to seal their birch bark canoes. Pitch is not oil. It can be converted through intensive refining into synthetic crude oil but the stuff they want to ship to Burnaby is diluted, not refined, pitch.

By mislabeling this crud "oil sands" it gives readers/viewers the impression that this stuff is relatively benign. All we need do is ask the people of Kalamazoo, Michigan whether it's benign. They've had a crash course in bitumen thanks to an Enbridge pipeline that burst pouring the crud into the Kalamazoo River. They finally had to dredge the river bed to remove most, most but not all, of it.

How often do you see the media discuss the real contents of Athabasca bitumen or what happens when bitumen is spilled into seawater or the hazard it presents to our coastal waters? Never. And so the public is lulled into a mistaken view of this product. If you want to learn the hazards of dilbit you have to go hunt down the information. CBC won't tell you. Ditto for CTV, Global, PostMedia, the Globe, in effect nearly all of Canada's mass media. Hell your own government won't tell you. Harper wouldn't tell you. Trudeau won't tell you. Peter Kent wouldn't tell you. Catherine McKenna won't tell you. They're a rotten crew, inveterate petro-politicians, from start to finish.

The Mound of Sound said...

TB, did you check out the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation website? Their main vessels are fairly small boats that can deploy booms and siphoning gear for fairly small conventional oil spills. They're a calm weather operation and don't appear to have any subsurface technology. This is what Kinder Morgan is offering coastal B.C. - a gestural response at best. I would love to know if WCMRC provides the Corexit option. I'm guessing that's their real purpose.

Northern PoV said...

We had a 'minor' spill here in English bay last year. (Fuel, not crude I believe.) Anyway, now we can't find the shipping company to pay the bill on the clean up. Funny that.

And to think that KMs liability ends the minute they dump their toxic sludge into a tanker.

Note the London protest. God they are good at political theatre.
Crudeau Indeed!

Trailblazer said...

The fix was in years ago, Deacon, when the media collectively chose to mislabel the tar sands the "oil sands."

Do Albertans call a field of wheat a bread field?


Trailblazer said...

Has it occurred to anyone else that 'if' Notley and Trudeau do purchase a controlling interest in Kinder Morgan that they will possibly rename the company.
You guessed it!!
Petro Canada!!

my my that was a Kinder surprise.


the salamander said...

.. we know its hard Mound
but in future refer to the product
as 'unfairly discounted Alberta oil'

Lord Kenney will tap it with the magic pipeline wand
and lo.. it is now Brent or West Texas sweet
journeying to Asia in Asian supertankers

and the oceans will part, the burning bush ignite
and disosaurs from 5,000 years ago
when jebus created Adam and Eve
shall be harnessed and help plough the prairies

We live now in a realm of Off Their Nut political animals
They will say the world is flat for votes or polls
or that zebras paint stripes on themselves
Shame? You think these people know shame?

The Mound of Sound said...

Petro-Canada in name, Petro-Canada by nature. We are a petro-state in the finest tradition of Nigeria and Venezuela. Some years ago Andrew Nikiforuk wrote a book about Canada as a petro-state in which he showed how our governments truly fit that mould. We expected nothing better from Harper. I suppose we were a bit surprised to receive nothing better from Trudeau.

The Mound of Sound said...

Do I "think they know shame?" Sal, please. If Trudeau had any integrity, as we were given to believe during the 2015 election campaign, he has shed it layer by layer as a lizard sheds its skin. It began with the Saudi death wagons and then his broken promise on electoral reform. Pipelines, tankers, the subjugation of British Columbia, the persistent lies about "the science" that no one can see, on and on and on.

As I said before,Trudeau traded on a legendary Canadian name only he was never man enough to grow into it.

Peter Lowry refers to the "strange irony" that "Pierre Trudeau did so much to pull confederation together" while Justin may be tearing it apart.

Trudeau had two sons of the intellectual heft who might have done him and the country proud. We wound up with Justin instead.

Owen Gray said...

It's a re-run of the problem of dealing with nuclear waste. We still haven't figured out a good way to dispose of those nuclear rods. said...

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