Just how feasible is the horrific scenario depicted by the regional environmentalist group Dogwood Initiative based on Kinder Morgan’s $5.4 bn TransMountain pipeline through the Lower Mainland?
A campaign launched by ReThink Marketing seeks to demonstrate the aftermath of such a spill. To do so, the makers of similar aggressive ads for Science World, have temporarily set up binoculars at Vancouver’s English Bay. Visitors who peer through the binoculars will see an animated 3D post-oil spill view of the city – complete with oil slicks, tar-soaked beaches, black smoke ascending from blazing pools of oil and a beached orca whale. As the cataclysmic event unfolds, attempts are undertaken by local emergency crews to contain the 500 metric tonnes of crude oil spilling out from a tanker harbored in close proximity to downtown Vancouver and prevent it from spreading.
The initiative puts the proposed expansion of the Transmountain pipeline in the crosshairs. With this project the Texas firm Kinder Morgan intends to step up the volume of oil flowing from the oil sands in Alberta to a shipping facility located in Burrard Inlet near Burnaby Mountain – from the current amount of 300,000 to close to 900,000 barrels annually. As a result, sea traffic will also rise considerably, with the number of oil tankers passing through Vancouver going from 60 to 408 each year.
The majority of local politicians in the region have been voicing their stark opposition to expanding the pipeline, most prominently the mayor of Burnaby, Derek Corrigan, and the mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson. Corrigan has actively been undertaking measures to prevent Kinder Morgan from finishing survey work on Burnaby Mountain.
The initiative preceeds local elections which are going to take place across the region, presumably to evoke a strong response from voters who will soon be heading to the polls. The decision, however, will be taken at the federal, not the municipal level.
“We wanted to show people what’s at stake, but also remind citizens that this is only one possible future,” according to Kai Nagata, the Energy & Democracy director at Dogwood. “The fate of these pipeline and oil tanker proposals is really up to us, the voters.”