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If you’d like to show your support for a fair and independent technical analysis of Northern Gateway and similar projects, make sure you like our page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @CPE_Canada.

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If you’d like to receive updates from CPE on new developments in the Northern Gateway project, subscribe to our newsletter.  We will aim to publish a quarterly update (every three months) that discusses the most relevant developments of this project and our analysis of the ongoing issues.

Engineers: Join our LinkedIn group

Concerned Professional Engineers is always looking to reach out to more engineers.  If you are an accredited Canadian Professional Engineer, join our LinkedIn group and show that you stand for the values of our profession as described by the APEGBC Code of Ethics. “Members and licensees shall… Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace.” “Members and licensees shall… Extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and geoscience and protect the profession from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.” https://www.apeg.bc.ca/About-Us/Governance/The-Act,-Bylaws-and-Code-of-Ethics Go to www.linkedin.com and search for Concerned Professional Engineers, or follow the direct link below. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Concerned-Professional-Engineers-6568190/about

What we want: a more effective regulatory process

We want a stronger and more effective regulatory process put in place for this and future projects.  This doesn’t have to mean more red tape.  We understand that the regulatory process is already very lengthy and that it can take many years to get a project like this just to the point where construction can begin.  Our goal is to make the existing process more effective, so that the money and time that is being spent (both public and private) is not wasted. What does this mean?  It means that if a regulatory process is scientific and technical, that it will be scientific and technical.  Critical assumptions that underpin important parts of the analysis will be treated as such.  Project proponents will have to demonstrate, to a sufficient level of detail, that the risks are as they claim.  If proponents cannot demonstrate their claims, regulators should notify the public of these uncertainties, rather than gloss over legitimate concerns about thoroughness and detail. We think it inappropriate for a small panel of unelected officials to pass judgment on the acceptability of a project without clearly defining their terms of acceptance and the limits of their knowledge and analysis.  We also propose that vague statements about a “World-Class Spill Response” be rejected as just that: vague statements insufficient for determining the acceptability of a major project.

Letters to politicians

Letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

View CPE letter to Prime Minister Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Prime Minister Harper, We know that you are thinking about our economy, our jobs, and the continued development of our natural resources in a way that will benefit Canadians for all generations to come. So are we.  That is why we are writing to inform you of significant shortcomings in the National Energy Board’s approval of the Northern Gateway project. We are an independent group of Professional Engineers and Engineering Professors from British Columbia.  We have spent our careers working on the extraction and transportation of natural resources in this country and we understand that these industries are a fundamental part of our Canada’s economy.   At the same time, we recognize that our natural environment is also an important resource that must be protected for the health and prosperity of all future Canadians.  With these two objectives in mind we undertook an independent analysis of the marine shipping aspects of the Northern Gateway project. We regret to inform you that the current regulatory process has failed to reach an acceptable balance between these conflicting requirements in three principal ways:

    1. The risk calculations provided by Northern Gateway are based to a considerable extent on unjustified assumptions.  We pursued answers to these issues as intervenors in the Joint Review Panel (JRP) process, but have yet to find anything that addresses our concerns, whether in Northern Gateway’s responses to our questions or the JRP’s final report and 209 conditions.   We are left to conclude that the risks of a major tanker spill on the BC coast are unknown, and are likely much higher than what is being claimed.
    2. Since the marine oil transport industry funds available for cleanup and damages are limited to $1.35 billion, a significant portion of the costs of a major spill will be borne by taxpayers.  This is inconsistent with the “polluter pays” principle avowed by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate about whether or not a spill of diluted bitumen into a marine environment can be effectively cleaned up.  Without an actionable understanding of this product’s behaviour in a marine spill, we conclude that the ability to clean up a spill is unknown, as are the costs of cleanup and damage to the environment.  We recognize that research is underway to inform this debate, but we find it presumptuous that the project has been approved without placing conditions on the outcome of this research.

Our concerns are explained in detail on our website: www.concernedengineers.org. We ask that you take immediate action to address these shortcomings. We would like to be assured that the Northern Gateway and similar future projects are reviewed in a manner consistent with the National Energy Board’s stated mandate of conducting a thorough, independent, science-based review of all the facts to determine whether these projects are in the interest of Canadians. We kindly request that you respond to our above concerns as soon as practicable. Sincerely,

Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE 
Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org

 

Letter to Christy Clarke, Premier of British Columbia

View PDF CPE letter to Christy Clarke

The Honourable Christy Clark
Premier of British Columbia
Box 9041
Station PROV GOVT
Victoria, BC

Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Christy Clarke, Premier of British Columbia, We know that you are thinking about our economy, our jobs, and the continued development of our natural resources in a way that will benefit British Columbians and Canadians for all generations to come.  So are we.  We are also aware of the five conditions put forward by your government for the approval of the Northern Gateway project.  That is why we are writing to inform you of significant shortcomings in the National Energy Board’s December 2013 decision to allow the project to proceed. Our group, Concerned Professional Engineers, is composed of a small number of Professional Engineers and engineering professors based in British Columbia.  Together we have more than 100 years’ experience designing and operating large projects for the marine transportation of natural resources. We have spent the past two years analyzing the marine shipping aspects of this project, specifically the shipment of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day via supertanker through the Douglas Channel, and we have decided to launch a public awareness campaign to alert British Columbians to the risks posed by this project.  We had hoped the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) would have addressed the concerns we brought forth as intervenors in the official review process, but instead we found they glossed over significant issues and fell short in three primary ways:

    1. The JRP failed to investigate a number of assumptions in the calculations presented by Northern Gateway regarding the risk of a major tanker spill.  Lacking a thorough analysis, we are left to conclude that the risks of a spill are unknown.
    2. The financial liability regime currently in place leaves Canadian taxpayers exposed to the costs of a significant spill, in conflict with the “Polluter Pays” principle espoused by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate, especially between Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as to the possibility and effectiveness of cleaning up diluted bitumen spilled into a marine environment.  As such, we believe all estimates of cleanup costs to be speculative and hopeful, at best.

We find that the Joint Review Panel has clearly failed their mandate of conducting a thorough and scientific analysis of the evidence.  As a result, and without further action to correct these errors, the public is left with the only option of trusting the assurances of Northern Gateway and their paid consultants. While we agree that this province has an obligation to support the export of Canada’s natural resources to world markets, we are adamant that British Columbia stand firm on its five conditions of approval.  We request that you, as Premier, reject the National Energy Board’s recommendation on the above grounds, and that you demand a thorough, scientific, and technical analysis of Northern Gateway’s vague promises to build a “World-Class Spill Response.” We encourage you to review the arguments we have presented on our website (www.concernedengineers.org), and we ask that you do everything in your power as Premier of British Columbia to ensure that this and future projects receive the careful review they require. Sincerely,

Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE  
Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org
 

  Open letter to Canada’s Members of Parliament View PDF  CPE letter to MPs Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Members of Parliament, We know that you are thinking about our economy, our jobs, and the continued development of our natural resources in a way that will benefit Canadians for all generations to come. So are we.  That is why we are writing to inform you of significant shortcomings in the National Energy Board’s approval of the Northern Gateway project. We are an independent group of Professional Engineers and Engineering Professors from British Columbia.  We have spent our careers working on the extraction and transportation of natural resources in this country and we understand that these industries are a fundamental part of our Canada’s economy.   At the same time, we recognize that our natural environment is also an important resource that must be protected for the health and prosperity of all future Canadians.  With these two objectives in mind we undertook an independent analysis of the marine shipping aspects of the Northern Gateway project. We regret to inform you that the current regulatory process has failed to reach an acceptable balance between these conflicting requirements in three principal ways:

    1. The risk calculations provided by Northern Gateway are based to a considerable extent on unjustified assumptions.  We pursued answers to these issues as intervenors in the Joint Review Panel (JRP) process, but have yet to find anything that addresses our concerns, whether in Northern Gateway’s responses to our questions or the JRP’s final report and 209 conditions.   We are left to conclude that the risks of a major tanker spill on the BC coast are unknown, and are likely much higher than what is being claimed.
    2. Since the marine oil transport industry funds available for cleanup and damages are limited to $1.35 billion, a significant portion of the costs of a major spill will be borne by taxpayers.  This is inconsistent with the “polluter pays” principle avowed by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate about whether or not a spill of diluted bitumen into a marine environment can be effectively cleaned up.  Without an actionable understanding of this product’s behaviour in a marine spill, we conclude that the ability to clean up a spill is unknown, as are the costs of cleanup and damage to the environment.  We recognize that research is underway to inform this debate, but we find it presumptuous that the project has been approved without placing conditions on the outcome of this research.

Our concerns are explained in detail on our website: www.concernedengineers.org. We ask that you take immediate action to address these shortcomings. We would like to be assured that the Northern Gateway and similar future projects are reviewed in a manner consistent with the National Energy Board’s stated mandate of conducting a thorough, independent, science-based review of all the facts to determine whether these projects are in the interest of Canadians. We kindly request that you take all actions within your power to bring these issues to the attention of Prime Minister Harper before his cabinet makes their decision on the future of this project. Sincerely,

Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE 
Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org
 

 

Letter to Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition

View PDF  CPE letter to Thomas Mulcair March 11, 2014

Thomas Mulcair
300 – 279 Laurier West
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5J9

Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Thomas Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition, We are writing to you in your capacity as the Leader of the Official Opposition with the hope that you will be able to correct serious shortcomings in the regulatory process that has recently approved the construction of the Northern Gateway Project. It is our understanding that you are opposed to this project as currently proposed.  Despite your opposition, however, you also understand that the oilsands are a significant driver of our economy and that finding a way to export these resources is crucial to the development of our economy.  We share these views. Our group, Concerned Professional Engineers, is composed of a small number of Professional Engineers and engineering professors based in British Columbia.  Together we have more than 100 years’ experience designing and operating large projects for the marine transportation of natural resources.  With our backgrounds, we were naturally curious about the Northern Gateway project. We have spent the past two years analyzing the marine shipping aspects of this project, specifically the shipment of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day via tanker through the Douglas Channel, and we have decided to launch a public awareness campaign to alert Canadians to the risks posed by this project.  We had hoped the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) would have addressed the concerns we brought forth as intervenors in the official review process, but instead we found they glossed over significant issues and fell short in three primary ways:

    1. The JRP failed to investigate a number of assumptions in the calculations presented by Northern Gateway regarding the risk of a major tanker spill.  Lacking a thorough analysis, we are left to conclude that the risks of a spill are unknown.
    2. The financial liability regime currently in place leaves Canadian taxpayers exposed to the costs of a significant spill, in conflict with the “Polluter Pays” principle espoused by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate, especially between Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as to the possibility and effectiveness of cleaning up diluted bitumen spilled into a marine environment.  As such, we believe all estimates of cleanup costs to be speculative and hopeful, at best.

We find that the Joint Review Panel has clearly failed their mandate of conducting a thorough and scientific analysis of the evidence.  As a result, and without further action to correct these errors, the public is left with the only option of trusting the assurances of Northern Gateway and their paid consultants. We strongly encourage you to review the arguments we have presented on our website (www.concernedengineers.org), and to do everything in your power as Leader of the Official Opposition to ensure that this and future projects receive the careful review they require. Sincerely, Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE

Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org

  Letter to Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada View PDF  CPE letter to Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May
518 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, We are writing to you in your capacity as the Leader of the Green Party of Canada with the hope that you will be able to correct serious shortcomings in the regulatory process that has recently approved the construction of the Northern Gateway Project. Our group, Concerned Professional Engineers, is composed of a small number of Professional Engineers and engineering professors based in British Columbia.  Together we have more than 100 years’ experience designing and operating large projects for the marine transportation of natural resources.  With our backgrounds, we were naturally curious about the Northern Gateway project. We have spent the past two years analyzing the marine shipping aspects of this project, specifically the shipment of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day via tanker through the Douglas Channel, and we have decided to launch a public awareness campaign to alert Canadians to the risks posed by this project.  We had hoped the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) would have addressed the concerns we brought forth as intervenors in the official review process, but instead we found they glossed over significant issues and fell short in three primary ways:

    1. The JRP failed to investigate a number of assumptions in the calculations presented by Northern Gateway regarding the risk of a major tanker spill.  Lacking a thorough analysis, we are left to conclude that the risks of a spill are unknown.
    2. The financial liability regime currently in place leaves Canadian taxpayers exposed to the costs of a significant spill, in conflict with the “Polluter Pays” principle espoused by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate, especially between Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as to the possibility and effectiveness of cleaning up diluted bitumen spilled into a marine environment.  As such, we believe all estimates of cleanup costs to be speculative and hopeful, at best.

We find that the Joint Review Panel has clearly failed their mandate of conducting a thorough and scientific analysis of the evidence.  As a result, and without further action to correct these errors, the public is left with the only option of trusting the assurances of Northern Gateway and their paid consultants. Without an effective regulatory process in place, we are concerned that extraordinary growth in tanker transport of petroleum products could pose significant safety and environmental risks in the near future, similar to the recent rail incidents that have caused catastrophic damage and tragic loss of life. We strongly encourage you to review the arguments we have presented on our website (www.concernedengineers.org), and to do everything in your power to ensure that this and future projects receive the careful review they require. Sincerely, Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE

Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org
 

 

An open letter to British Columbia MLAs

View PDF CPE letter to BC MLAs Re: Northern Gateway Project Dear Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, We know that you are thinking about our economy, our jobs, and the continued development of our natural resources in a way that will benefit British Columbians and Canadians for all generations to come.  So are we.  We are also aware of the five conditions put forward by the government of BC for the approval of the Northern Gateway project.  That is why we are writing to inform you of significant shortcomings in the National Energy Board’s December 2013 decision to allow the project to proceed.Our group, Concerned Professional Engineers, is composed of a small number of Professional Engineers and engineering professors based in British Columbia.  Together we have more than 100 years’ experience designing and operating large projects for the marine transportation of natural resources.   We have spent the past two years analyzing the marine shipping aspects of this project, specifically the shipment of 525,000 barrels of diluted bitumen per day via supertanker through the Douglas Channel, and we have decided to launch a public awareness campaign to alert Canadians to the risks posed by this project.  We had hoped the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel (JRP) would have addressed the concerns we brought forth as intervenors in the official review process, but instead we found they glossed over significant issues and fell short in three primary ways:

    1. The JRP failed to investigate a number of assumptions in the calculations presented by Northern Gateway regarding the risk of a major tanker spill.  Lacking a thorough analysis, we are left to conclude that the risks of a spill are unknown.
    2. The financial liability regime currently in place leaves Canadian taxpayers exposed to the costs of a significant spill, in conflict with the “Polluter Pays” principle espoused by Transport Canada.
    3. There is still considerable debate, especially between Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as to the possibility and effectiveness of cleaning up diluted bitumen spilled into a marine environment.  As such, we believe all estimates of cleanup costs to be speculative and hopeful, at best.

We find that the Joint Review Panel has clearly failed their mandate of conducting a thorough and scientific analysis of the evidence.  As a result, and without further action to correct these errors, the public is left with the only option of trusting the assurances of Northern Gateway and their paid consultants.  While we agree that this province has an obligation to support the export of Canada’s natural resources to world markets, we are adamant that British Columbia stand firm on its five conditions of approval.  We request that you, as an elected representative of the people, reject the National Energy Board’s recommendation on the above grounds, and that you demand a thorough, scientific, and technical analysis of Northern Gateway’s vague promises to build a “World-Class Spill Response.” We strongly encourage you to review the arguments we have presented on our website (www.concernedengineers.org), and to do everything in your power as an MLA to ensure that this and future projects receive the careful review they require.

Sincerely, Brian Gunn, on behalf of CPE 
Concerned Professional Engineers
concernedpeng@gmail.com
www.concernedengineers.org