Pipeline safety: just a pipe dream?

Pipeline safety: just a pipe dream? by Bob Scammell, July 05, 2012, Red Deer Advocate
The decline in pipeline safety and the attacks of big oil and gas on the environment intensified with the drastic budget cuts of the first Klein Conservative government and have accelerated ever since. Responding to recent public outrage over the Red Deer River spill and half a dozen other recent spills, our new premier says she would not be averse to a major review of pipeline safety, but only when these recent spills are cleaned up. I suspect Hon. Redford really means “never,” because the occurrence rate of these incidents guarantees there will never be a time when they are all cleaned up. Besides, in today’s Alberta, it is a pipedream to expect Alberta provincial politicians even to slap, let alone bite the hand that keeps their collective butts in the butter dish of big pay, and fabulous perks, including huge so-called “severance allowances.” Yet one more time, perhaps the last, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans might wade into a provincial fisheries atrocity that the province surely wont prosecute, i.e.: the Red Deer spill, and eventually extract a big penalty from Plains Midstream using the same section of the federal Fisheries Act under which CNR was fined $1 million on May 25, 2009 for its August 23, 2005 derailment and spill of heavy fuel oil and pole treating oil into Wabamun Lake. DFO people were on the scene at Gleniffer Lake, and their Alberta office has confirmed to me that, among other things, they were investigating to determine if the spill “resulted in the harmful alteration, disruption, or destruction of fish habitat,” in the good old words of sec. 35 (1) of the Fisheries Act, under which the CNR was convicted. Those are the same words under which Plains Midstream would be prosecuted, their offence, if any, having taken place before the recent gutting, “dumbing down,” weakening of sec. 35 (1) in the much-reviled federal PC’s so-called “omnibus” budget bill, which also contained an unholy war on some of Canada’s best environmental legislation. In the event all else fails, outraged people, people who believe they have suffered damage, have taken matters into their own hands with the almost non-Albertan and non-Canadian initiative of commencing a class-action lawsuit seeking $75 million in damages against Plains Midstream for the spill. Short of outright revolution, this is the only step left for people who are fed up and can’t take it any more from a resource industry riding roughshod over our environment and a government that too often seems to be aiding and abetting the carnage. [Emphasis added]

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