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NEWS: Enbridge CEO: “Can we promise there will never be an accident? No. Nobody can.”

We have all been following the story of the British Petroleum oil rig that exploded on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico.

As of Thursday, 5,000 barrels of oil a day were leaking from a sub-sea well into the water. It has been estimated that it could now take 90 days to stop the underwater leak and that more than 445,000 barrels of oil could eventually pollute the water.

US President Barack Obama, who visited the area today, called it a “potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”

Likely because of this, CBC TV’s The Nature of Things with David Suzuki rebroadcast the documentary ‘Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez’ this evening.

As noted on the CBC website, “‘Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez’ follows the saga of what happened once the story was no longer front page news and after the journalists had gone home (in 1989). In 1993 both the salmon and herring runs collapsed. Some species, like the herring, have failed to recover, creating a permanent economic crisis for the Sound’s fisherman. As the bankruptcies began, a wave of social problems followed – alcoholism, high divorce rates and even suicides have swept through the Sound’s small towns.”

The film is both tragic and moving in its telling of the story of the long-term consequences of the 257,000 barrels of oil that were spilled in the waters in that disaster.

The film brought to mind a recent comment by Enbridge CEO Pat Daniel whose company is pushing for the Northern Gateway pipeline project.

This is their plan. By 2015, some 525,000 barrels of tar sands bitumen a day would be sent by pipeline to Kitimat, BC to be taken by 225 super tankers a year through the narrow Douglas Channel and then across the Pacific Ocean to Asian markets.

When asked about the possibility of an oil spill given this amount of tanker traffic, Mr. Daniel said, “Can we promise there will never be an accident? No. Nobody can.”

This is unacceptable.

Even to get to the terminal in Kitimat, the 1,200 kilometre pipeline will, in the words of columnist Don Marten, “punch a hole through the Rockies” and then cross 1,000 rivers and streams in British Columbia.

It’s no wonder many First Nations in British Columbia have said they will not allow this project to proceed.

The Council of Canadians will be joining them and others in campaigning to stop this outrageous project.

For more on ‘Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez’, go to http://www.cbc.ca/documentaries/natureofthings/2009/exxonvaldez/. If you want to purchase the 99-minute film ($20.99), go to http://www.blackwavethefilm.com/buythedvd.