Enbridge could sacrifice salmon phenomenon

Letter to the editor


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 kilometres 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 though the Stuart River, it could have a catastrophic impact on local populations throughout the Stuart, Trembleur, and Takla Lake chain.

The late Roderick Haig-Brown observed: “The salmon runs are a visible symbol of life, death, and regeneration, plain for all to see and share … The salmon are a test of a healthy environment, a lesson in environmental needs. Their abundant presence on the spawning beds is a lesson of hope, of deep importance for the future of man.” 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.

Kelly Izzard


Fort St. James