Another B.C. Earthquake

October 31, 2012 by  

Another B.C. Earthquake, Critics of the Northern Gateway pipeline say the weekend’s massive earthquake just off the B.C. coast is a warning that should be heeded. The region is the most prone in the west for earthquakes and the subsequent tsunamis that often follow. A 7.7 earthquake off Haida Gwaii on Saturday evening left hundreds of residents without power but caused little damage.

Imagine what would happen if the quake had struck where a pipeline was located, said Keith Stewart, climate and energy campaign coordinator for Greenpeace.

“If power goes out in your house, that’s one thing but if oil starts gushing into your basement, that’s more complicated,” said Stewart. “The thing with earthquakes on the west coast, it’s a question of when and how big, not if. If you’re building an infrastructure like a pipeline in remote areas, that’s a huge area.”

Enbridge spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht said seismic and tsunami activities are two of environmental concerns taken into consideration in the proposed pipeline design.

“It doesn’t take us by surprise. Seismic activity along the Pacific Coast is well known and the earthquake on Saturday is well within the scope of what was expected,” he said. “The plan we are proposing would be for an incident much larger than the incident that happened Saturday.”

Giesbrecht said there are no seismic faults identified in the immediate vicinity of the project and the Queen Charlotte fault, which is west of the Haida Gwaii, is not near the ship’s projected route.

The quake Saturday cut off power in Kitimat, B.C., which is the terminal to the proposed pipeline that would ship bitumen from northern Alberta and then overseas by tankers.

Simon Fraser University earthquake expert John Clague said Saturday’s quake was located along the undersea Queen Charlotte fault and it’s extremely unlikely that an earthquake would occur inland near Kitimat.

“Earthquakes are an issue on the coast and the hazard in Prince Rupert or in Kitimat is nowhere near as high as at Queen Charlotte,” he said Monday.

“Tankers wouldn’t be impacted by a potential tsunami. In deep water where the tankers will be, a tsunami passing by would be felt in the open ocean.” The concerns with tsunamis will be along the coastal zones not out in the ocean where the tankers will be, he said.

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