Learn about the pipeline
Transporting Alberta tar sands oil to the B.C. Coast
The Northern Gateway Pipeline is a proposal by Enbridge to construct twin petroleum product pipelines 1,170 kilometres between Brudenheim (located just north of the city of Edmonton) and Kitimat, B.C.
» View an interactive map of the pipeline route.
One pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels per day of Alberta tar sands crude oil westward to a new oil tanker port at Kitimat. The other would carry condensate – a lighter petroleum product used to dilute bitumen – eastward for use in transporting the tar sands crude oil.
Enbridge’s stated reasoning behind its proposed pipeline is that it would facilitate access to new markets for Canadian tar sands oil. Currently, the majority of tar sands oil is shipped south to U.S. markets.
Across 1,000 rivers and streams
Unlike other pipelines Enbridge has built, the route for the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline crosses the rugged, mountainous terrain of the Northern Rockies and the Coast Mountains of British Columbia.
The pipeline would crosses some 1,000 streams and rivers, including sensitive salmon spawning habitat in the upper Fraser, Skeena, and Kitimat watersheds. Five important salmon rivers that would be impacted are the Stuart River, Morice River, Copper River, Kitimat River and Salmon River.
» To learn more about the impact of oil pipelines on wild salmon, read ““Pipelines and Salmon in northern British Columbia”:http://bc.pembina.org/pub/1894” by the Pembina Institute.
Across First Nations territories
If built, the Northern Gateway Pipeline would cross the territories of more than 50 First Nations groups. West of the Rocky Mountains, few First Nations have signed treaties with the Crown. Their rights and title to their traditional territories has been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada.
Currently, the Northern Gateway Pipeline is opposed by the nine Coastal First Nations, as well as many of the inland First Nation along the pipeline route.
» View a flash animation showing First Nations opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
In March 2010, the Coastal First Nations signed a declaration [link] stating that “tar sands oil will not be allowed to transit our traditional lands and waters.” Other First Nations groups, including the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council and Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, have been instrumental in efforts to stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
» Read the Carrier-Sekani Tribal Council’s report, ““Assessment of the Impacts of the Proposed Enbridge Gateway Pipeline on the Carrier Sekani First Nations.”:http://www.cstc.bc.ca/cstc/67/enbridge”
Risk of pipeline oil spills
Pipelines carry a serious risk of oil spills. Metal pipelines age and corrode over time, making them susceptible to ruptures. Pipelines are also at risk of breakage due to natural events such as landslides, and non-accidental events such as terrorism.
The National Enery Board estimates large petroleum pipelines will experience a spill every 16 years for every 1000 kilometres in length.[National Energy Board, Analysis of Ruptures and Trends on Major Canadian Pipeline Systems, 2004]
Each year, oil pipelines in North America spill millions of litres of oil into the environment. In July 2010, Enbridge’s Lakehead pipeline ruptured near Battle Creek, Michigan, spilling an estimated 4 million litres of crude oil[cite] into the Kalamazoo River. It was the largest oil spill in Midwest U.S. history. Although Enbridge claims to have a rigorous pipeline safety program, there are serious questions being asked regarding both its maintenance of its pipelines and its response to the oil spill.
» Read the Friends of Wild Salmon leaflet about the Enbridge oil spill in Michigan