June 8, 2015 was World Oceans Day  when everyone should have set aside some time to think about what humanity has done to the worlds oceans, lakes and waterways. In particular, companies and corporations should review their potential impact on those, as well as a vast array of under water creatures that they could be endangering.

In an email received from the David Suzuki Foundation on June 7, he noted that although this day is “a time to celebrate the rich marine life,” is also also time to review the Canadian government’s commitment “to protect 10 percent of our oceans by 2020, it has so far protected just one percent.”

Suzuki noted, “Canada passed the Oceans Act 18 years ago, with a promise to safeguard our oceans and coastal ecosystems. It took another eight years to prioritize five large ocean management areas: the Beaufort SeaGulf of St. Lawrence, North Pacific Coast, Eastern Scotian Shelf and Placentia Bay/Grand Banks.”

He added that the government is currently “10 years behind schedule and contending with escalating demands for ocean uses.” He also noted that it is well past time to deal with this issue that puts the availability of clean water and marine life at risk.

“Energy development, shipping, fishing, conservation and ecotourism are bumping up against each other with no clear direction.”

He stated that while the federal government has been sadly lacking, some provinces have taken the lead, as they did when making commitments about climate change.

“On B.C.’s Pacific North Coast, marine planning has moved ahead without the federal government, which dropped out of the planning process in 2011. Even without national representation, the results are encouraging. Eighteen coastal First Nations and the province of B.C. have come up with their own plans for coastal ecosystems.”

And it is a good thing that they decided to be pro-active. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is forging ahead with a plan for two major pipelines across Canada. A proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would send tar sands bitumen that has been diluted with liquid chemicals including benzene) “across 800 pristine rivers and streams to be loaded onto supertankers carrying the dirtiest oil on Earth by ship to markets in Asia.”

The proposed Energy East pipeline would see “1.1 million barrels of bitumen” each day over an estimated “90 watersheds and 961 waterways” from Empress, Alberta to Saint John, New Brunswick. It would then be shipped to the U.S. and Asia. In a press release, Environmental Defence noted that this pipeline “would put hundreds of communities in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick at risk of a tar sands oil spill.”

The organization also noted that documents were leaked that highlighted TransCanada‘s “unethical” and “secret methods” to get this project approved. These include “creating fake grassroots campaigns and enlisting third parties (including the public relations firm, Edelman) to pressure on groups like Environmental Defence” since TransCanada cannot do it directly.

As well, a plan to expand Enbridge Inc.’s Lakehead System pipeline, which runs north to south is in the works. This pipeline even goes under the Great Lakes, “putting the watershed in grave danger.” According to Enbridge’s web site, “The 1,900-mile Lakehead System, which is the U.S. portion of the world’s longest liquid petroleum pipeline, has operated for more than 60 years…”

Enbridge has a variety of other pipelines, which have released thousands of barrels of crude oil over the years. Line9communities.com used the company’s own reports to determine that there were 804 crude oil spills between 1999 and 2010.
“These spills released approximately 161,475 barrels (25,672.5 m3) of crude oil into the environment,” Environmental Defence noted. One of them occurred on June 23, 2013 when about 750 barrels spewed from a pipeline going from the Long Lake oil sands to Cheecham, Alberta. In 2010, a pipeline rupture at Virden, Manitoba spilled over 9.5 barrels of oil into Boghill Creek, which links to the Assiniboine River.

“Some of the oil filled a hole more than 20 feet (6.1 m) deep and was reported to have contaminated the local water table.”

In 2007, about 6,227 barrels of oil entered a field that is downstream from the Enbridge pumping station at Glenavon, Saskatchewan. And in 2006, approximately 613 barrels were released from Enbridge’s Willmar Terminal in Saskatchewan.
“According to Enbridge, roughly half the oil was recovered.”

These incidents include only a handful of leaks and spills along its network of pipelines in the U.S. and Canada. In fact, a total of 67 spills (5,663 barrels) occurred in 2006 alone. With the company’s dismal record, why would these governments even consider allowing the Enbridge’s plan to double the capacity of its Alberta Clipper line? Well, TransCanada did just that.


Canada passed the Ocean’s Act

Canada’s Legislative Mandate for Marine Conservation

The Lakehead System pipeline

Line 9 – History of Enbridge spills

Marine Planning Partnership for the North Pacific Coast (MaPP)


Enbridge has a history of spills, leaks

See Part 2: Suncor sidetracks full environmental assessment to ship bitumen

Video: The Alberta Oil (Tar Sands): Canadian Prosperity – Global Nightmare