Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Transport Canada: No Regulatory Concerns with Northern Gateway Marine Operations: Enbridge Marine Operations Deemed Safe

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Transport Canada: No Regulatory Concerns with Northern Gateway Marine Operations: Enbridge Marine Operations Deemed Safe

Article excerpt

CALGARY - Huge oil tankers can safely travel in and out of the port of Kitimat, B.C., says a Transport Canada review of Enbridge Inc.'s controversial Northern Gateway project.

The department filed its report on Thursday to the regulatory panel weighing the $5.5-billion proposal, which would see Alberta crude shipped to the West Coast by pipeline and exported to Asian markets via a marine terminal at Kitimat.

"There will always be residual risk in any project," says the TERMPOL -- Technical Review Process of Marine Terminal Systems and Transhipment Sites -- report.

But "no regulatory concerns have been identified for the vessels, vessel operations, the proposed routes, navigability, other waterway users and the marine terminal operations associated with vessels supporting the Northern Gateway project."

Northern Gateway has attracted fierce opposition from First Nations, environmental and other groups who fear an oil spill from the pipeline itself or from tankers sailing through narrow coastal channels could cause grave ecological harm.

"The proposed shipping routes are appropriate for the oil tankers that will be used at the proposed terminal," said the report, adding "there are no charted obstructions that would pose a safety hazard to fully loaded oil tankers.

It does point out there are some narrow areas where extra caution is needed for two-way traffic.

And it said there may be an increased threat to marine mammals, such as whales, along the shipping route, and encourages Enbridge (TSX:ENB) to take steps to minimize harm.

The project would see an additional 250 oil tankers arriving at Kitimat each year, which means Transport Canada would have to step up its monitoring, the report said.

Janet Holder, Enbridge's executive vice-president of western access, called the report "a very positive step forward in the public review of the project. …

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