Since the Queen of the North sank on the central coast of BC in March of 2006, people have been nervous. It was an avoidable accident caused by human error. Remarkably, just two people died. The rest were lucky that the people of Hartley Bay were there to save them.
The ship’s massive hulk is now 1500 feet underwater, still leaking diesel into coastal waters. With that tragedy fresh in people’s mind, the looming threat of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline Project has people on edge.
The proposed pipeline would bring dirty oil from Alberta’s tar sands, to Kittimat where it would be pumped onto large oil tankers that would thread through the archipelago of BC’s Great Bear Rainforest – one of the most spectacular ecosystems anywhere.
Staggeringly, these tankers house two million barrels of oil each, which is ten times the amount of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez in Alaska. The navigational hazards for such colossal ships on this stretch of coast are formidable. Even more frightening when one considers that the Queen of the North and the Exon Valdez both went down while making comparatively easy navigational manoevers.
Accidents will happen. And the consequences of a big spill here have unimaginable consequences for coastal ecosystems and people. That is why First Nations and conservationists are vehemently opposing the Northern Gateway project, even while our government and Enbridge are moving forward with this plan.
If you haven’t visited the central coast (and odds are you haven’t – it isn’t easy to get to), then this 40 minute film will give you a taste of the magic of the place and get you up to speed on these issues.
The stories and images in the film are breathtaking. The threats it revels are real, but the film has a hopeful message. The pipeline has not been built, the Great Bear is still oil free, and we have a chance to keep it that way.
Higher quality viewing available here on the website of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
For more on this story, and some gorgeous photos, check out the July 2011 issue of National Geographic.