The sockeye have returned to Stuart Lake. This natural phenomenon, anticipated and celebrated from Sturgeon Point to Bulkley House, has been an annual event since the last ice age. For thousands of years the culture and well-being of the people of Northern B.C. have been inextricably linked to the return of the sockeye and all other Pacific salmon, and that relationship continues today.
Enbridge is proposing to cross the Stuart River with its Northern Gateway pipeline near the Fort St. James Airport. A pipeline failure at or near the crossing could potentially release thousands of barrels of bitumen into the Stuart, creating a toxic barrier to fish passage. On August 1, 2000 the Plateau pipeline ruptured near Chetwynd, releasing 6,200 barrels of light crude into the Pine River. The hydrocarbon contamination rapidly spread 30 km downstream, causing an immediate fish kill in the spill-affected zone. Biologists estimate 50-70 per cent of the resident fish, numbering in the tens of thousands, died as a result of the spill. If a similar event were to occur during the summer migration of the sockeye through the Stuart River, it could have a catastrophic impact on local populations throughout the Stuart, Trembleur, and Takla Lake chain.
It would be a tragedy to sacrifice this natural phenomenon to a pipeline for China. If you think this risk is unacceptable, contact your local MLA , write a letter or register to make an oral statement to the Joint Review Panel that is currently reviewing the Enbridge Northern Gateway proposal. If enough local people sign up, it may prompt the panel to hold a hearing session here next spring. The deadline for registration is October 6. Information sessions on making oral statements will be held every Tuesday in September from 5 -7 p.m. at the Fort St. James Library. Have your say on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project by signing up to make an oral statement and bring the Joint Review Panel here to see the beauty of the Stuart River.