A map showing the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline where it crosses the Stuart River near Fort St. James. The yellow shows the proposed pipeline

“Just a bunch of folks” – Local group looking for answers takes on the daunting task of intervenor

A group called the Fort St. James Sustainability Group, which has registered as an intervenor for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP) process has filed their first information request.

At the first opportunity to submit questions, the group has put forward an in-depth and intensely researched set of questions based on the proposed pipeline.

Concerned local citizens want answers, and now Enbridge will have to give them some.

A group called the Fort St. James Sustainability Group, which has registered as an intervenor for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel (JRP) process has filed their first information request.

At the first opportunity to submit questions, the group has put forward an in-depth and intensely researched set of questions based on the proposed pipeline.

At a recent presentation to council about Enbridge’s proposed pipeline, Kandace Kerr said the sustainability group is “just a bunch of folks who got together because we want to ask questions.”

The group began meeting in early July to talk about the proposed pipeline.

“Our concern for this community is if we don’t have any information, we can’t make informed decisions,” said Kerr.

While members of the group would likely have gotten together whether or not the community had more information from Enbridge, the lack of information sessions in the community is a factor.

“When they cancelled the information session and they sort of pulled out last minute I think it just fired us up that much more,” said Jana Gainor, a member of the group and resident of Airport Road, near where the proposed pipeline would go through.

One member of the group commented she was “shocked” the company has not been more proactive in informing the community, and the amount of research a person has to put in to find out information on the project is overwhelming, and it can even generate more questions.

That sentiment was echoed by Kerr, who has been integral in helping the group find information and organize their formal information request to the JRP.

“When you start digging in this stuff, it’s a little overwhelming,” said Kerr.

She commented to council in her presentation how hard information has been to get.

Working evenings and weekends to research the information request, Kerr worked to develop the group’s questions for the submission.

The questions are divided into distinct categories and cover:  The location of the proposed pumping station near Fort St. James, noise levels of this pumping station, the hazardous storage building at the pumping station, potential spills and responses and security at the station, emergency response plans associated with the station and the consultation process undertaken with landowners in the area.

The questions look for local and very specific information, such as the types of hazardous substance equipment which will be provided by Enbridge for local emergency services (local firefighters or other emergency personnel are the first responders to incidents on the pipeline or at the pumping station), who would incur the costs of responding to a fire at the pumping station, and examples of the effects of pipelines and pumping stations on property values in the area.

There are almost 40 detailed questions Enbridge will have to respond to, and then the group can ask further questions based on their answers as well.

Kerr’s presentation to council was to present some of the questions people in the group and the general community have been asking about the project.

“I think the more you know what people are asking about it, the better questions you can ask Enbridge as well,” said Kerr.

She also came to ask council to request Enbridge come to a council meeting to discuss these topics on the record.

“It was good that they came two weeks ago, but they need to come back, they need to answer some very specific questions,” said Kerr.

She also pointed out to council if they have concerns they want taken into account, they can do this by asking those questions and putting them on the public record via the Joint Review Panel.

Then, if the pipeline is approved, conditions can be put on the pipeline in order to address or mitigate those concerns.

When told about the group’s formation and registration as an intervenor, Michele Perret, senior manager of community relations for Enbridge said: “We’d prefer to be able to address the questions outside of the regulatory process because the regulatory process is so formal.”

Perret has also said she would be taking back to her boss the community’s request for an information session, and said they would work to try and reschedule the meeting cancelled in February.

 

To see the questions put forward by the Fort St. James Sustainability Group and other intervenors, google Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel and then click on the Intervenor button on the left hand menu and open the public registry link.