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Another Harper Project: Aboriginal Rights Overriding, Environmentally Hazardous, Lake Draining, and Arctic Port Risky

jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

Four ministries of the Harper government will be conducting an environmental review of a new Chinese state-owned mining proposal, called the Izok Corridor project, in western Nunavut. While the project would involve spending billions of dollars in the Arctic, it would also result in "open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd. ... MMG (the Chinese firm) doesn’t expect the Harper government’s recent policy changes on investment by state-owned enterprises to affect Izok." because the firm sees itself as "not acquiring and operating assets that are producing. We’re in there as a long-term investor in a project that has been seen as quite marginal by others."

All of this would create only 1,100 temporary jobs and 700 permanent jobs for a mine that is scheduled to last only 12 years. "Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres to the northeast, would have another three mines. MMG plans a port there that could accommodate ships of up to 50,000 tonnes that would make 16 round trips a year — both east and west — through the Northwest Passage. Izok Lake would be drained, the water dammed and diverted to a nearby lake. Three smaller lakes at High Lake would also be drained. Grays Bay would be substantially filled in." "(http://business.financialpost.com/2012/12/28/tories-mull-a-chinese-plan-...)

However more than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments have registered concerns about this project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

" 'Both the Izok Lake mine site and the High Lake mine site, as well as the route of the Izok corridor all-weather road, occur either near to or on the Bathurst calving ground,' wrote the government of the Northwest Territories.

'The proposed project may cause significant adverse effects on the ecosystem and wildlife habitat,' wrote Environment Canada.

'We are concerned that our hunting and harvesting rights will be in jeopardy if the project is allowed to proceed as is,' added the Lutsel K'e Dene.

Many pointed out that the Bathurst herd has only recently stabilized after a 90 per cent drop in the 1980s to today's 32,000 animals. That drop was steep and sustained enough for aboriginal groups to stop hunting the herd and many are leery of anything that could impede its recovery.

'The project may also cause some adverse socio-economic effects such as possible reductions and disruptions in harvesting opportunities,' wrote the Kitikmeot Inuit Association, despite acknowledging its members are most likely to benefit from mining jobs.

The board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines either operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.

On Dec. 14, the board recommended Northern Development Minister John Duncan call full public hearings on the project. Duncan and the three other ministries involved — Transport, Natural Resources and Fisheries and Oceans — have three choices. They can send the project back to MMG and ask for changes, they can choose to let the board run hearings itself or they can decide the project's effects would be broad enough to require the involvement of other governments in hearings." (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/12/27/izok-corridor-china-arctic_n_236...)

With no Ministry of Environment involved, and four ministries (Northern Development, Transport, Natural Resources, and Fisheries and Oceans) that are notorious for their business bias, we all know what the outcome of this review will be despite the overriding of aboriginal rights, the foreign control of our natural resources, and the environmental damage created by lake draining, caribou habitat destruction, mine wastes, as well as Northwest Passage and port construction accident risks in the hazardous Arctic. 

 


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Boom Boom
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Joined: Dec 29 2004

Sounds like a project for Idle No More.


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

By introducing tankers travelling east and west into the Northwest Passage on 16 trips a year through the Arctic Ocean and the building of a port that can take 50,000 ton ships and later be expanded to take oil tankers, Harper is also helping the oil industry invasion of the Arctic. In September, the Conservative government closed biding from oil companies for 905,000 hectares, the equivalent of 1,100,000 football fields in the Arctic Ocean after 20 years of inactivity in this region. 

Only one offshore well has been drilled in the Canadian Arctic Ocean in the past 20 years. "Although more than 400 wells have been drilled in the North, and some 65 petroleum fields found, barely a trickle of oil and gas has made it to market. Leases sold today might not yield anything for decades, if ever. Still, the sheer magnitude of what is on the block is a clear signal that some in the oil patch are contemplating a return north, because parcels aren’t made available unless companies request them." (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/reviving-arctic-oil-rush-ot...

"In an effort to encourage efficiency the federal government has streamlined environmental regulations, in favour of often duplicative provincial ones. But offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic is overseen exclusively by the federal government."

Furthermore, beyond the $40 million of absolute liability under current law  that a firm is responsible for paying in damages, regardless or fault or negligence, the Canadian taxpayer is responsible for oil spill costs.  This is  a joke compared to the $40 to $100 billion in estimated damages BP caused in the Gulf of Mexico and a firm with less resources than BP would almost certainly declared bankrupt, leaving the  taxpayers to cover the bill. 

Drilling in the Arctic Ocean "presents different challenges than the Gulf of Mexico. The Arctic is extremely cold, has long seasons of darkness, experiences hurricane-strength storms, and is regularly fog covered. Further, the remote location is thousands of kilometres from equipment and technical expertise. ... These harsh conditions and the barely-existent offshore spill response infrastructure make a potential spill prolonged and costly to the underwriters -- the Canadian taxpayer." (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/bud-sambasivam/canadians-pay-oil-spill_b_18...)

This is despite the fact that Total S.A., a French multinational oil and gas company, has said "energy companies should not drill for crude in Arctic waters, marking the first time an oil major has publicly spoken out against offshore oil exploration in the region [because] the risk of an oil spill in such an environmentally sensitive area was simply too high." (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-a...)

This year, Royal Dutch Shell plans to begin drilling in the Arctic Ocean were thwarted by repeated failures to get even basic oil spill response equipment into place. However, the full extent of the firm’s failed attempts to test oil spill response gear was not fully revealed until documents obtained by Seattle's National Public Radio station through Freedom of Information requests showed "that Shell’s oil spill response gear failed spectacularly in tests this fall in the relatively warm, tranquil waters of Puget Sound (off Seattle). The containment dome – which Shell sought to assure federal regulators would be adequate to cap a blowout in the event of emergency at its Arctic operations – failed miserably in tests.  The dome “breached like a whale” after malfunctioning, and then sank 120 feet. When the crew of the Arctic Challenger recovered the 20-foot-tall containment dome, they found that it had “crushed like a beer can” under pressure.(http://www.eradicatingecocideincanada.org/2012/12/shells-arctic-oil-spil...)

In a report the Pew Environment Group's Oceans North Canada says that "Canada should temporarily stop giving oil companies licences to drill in the Arctic because it is unprepared to handle any oil spill that may result, a new report says. ... A similar report from the World Wildlife Fund a day earlier that estimated weather conditions in the Arctic would make it impossible to deploy an emergency oil-spill response 84 per cent of the time."

Ocean North Canada's report noted that:

  • The Canadian Coast Guard has done no tests to determine its ability to handle an Arctic oil spill since 2000.
  • The oil company liability cap in Canada for a spill is a mere $40 million, even though damage can exceed this by several orders of magnitude. For example, the Gulf of Mexico BP oil spill cost $40 billion so far, which means that the Canadian cap would have left BP off the hook for $39.96 billion.
  • Canada does not screen oil firms to see if they can afford the costs of the worst-case Arctic drilling disaster scenario.
  • Canada has don very little consultation with First Nations and Inuit organizations in the Arctic region even though their land claims entitle them to that consultation.

Furthermore, this report "also noted some technical problems with Arctic oil spills that aren't specific to Canada:

  • There are few ways to clean up oil spills under thick Arctic ice and there has been very little research on that kind of clean-up to date. Such ice covers the Western Arctic 22 to 66 per cent of the time.
  • According to the National Energy Board, measures typically used to deal with oil spills can rarely be used in the Arctic even when there is no ice because of high winds, darkness and waves.

Despite the concerns outlined in the report, Canada issued three offshore drilling licences in 2010.

The report recommends that Canada:

  • Not give out any more deep water drilling licences in the Arctic until environmental assessments on drilling in the proposed licensing area are complete.
  • Require companies to show they can afford to control an Arctic oil spill and meet technical standards for doing so.
  • Provide for the ability to review and cancel existing long-term drilling rights and licenses, with compensation, in case of "justifiable circumstances" such as major environmental change, industrial accidents or national security issues."

The report also recommends that the National Energy Board not relax a rule that requires oil companies to be able to drill a relief well in the same season that a blow-out occurs at their main well. A relief well is designed to stop the resulting gush of oil into the ocean. Oil companies want the rule changed, and the board is considering a change as part of its review." (We all saw how difficult it was to drill a relief well in BP oil spill in the warm Gulf of Mexico where these Arctic problems were non-existent). 

(http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/story/2011/09/09/environment-canada-ar...)

 

 


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

To get a preview of what Canadian Arctic Ocean oil exploration and drilling will look like, one only has to look at what Shell has been up to this year in Alaska. Audubon Alaska summarized Shell's 2012 year as a "comedy of errors ... and a testimonial to Murphy's Law. If something could go wrong it did, eliminating any confidence that Shell can operate safely in an Arctic environment". (https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:Y_TNT3nGH0EJ:ak.audubon.org/s...)

Shell chose the almost 50 year old Arctic Challenger, a barge so decrepid that "by 2007 hundreds of Caspian terns, gulls, cormorants, pelicans, ravens, crows and even an owl turned the 300-foot barge into a giant's bird nest, coating the deck with bird dung and other gunk", as its oil spill response ship. Shell attempted refit of the Arctic Challenger ran into long delays because of its many failures to meet government safety regulations. This resulted in the cancellation of the summer drilling season because regulations require Shell to have an oil spill response ship on hand in case oil drilling operations result in a spill. A Shell spokesman refused to say why this old ship was chosen. Although thick ice had significantly delayed planned drilling until early August, when the company planned to drill five wells, Shell announced that it did not expect any more delays. (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/shells-oil-spill-containment-barge...)

However, while being refitted in Bellingham Washington, the oil spill response barge, the Arctic Challenger, was itself been convicted for four illegal fluid discarges into the ocean. Regulators assured the public by noting that all four spills were self-reported and each was only one quart in size. This came about because “When a Shell corporate observer noticed a sheen on the water and inquired with a Superior Energy manager (the firm doing the refit), he was met with resistance and told it was none of his business and to butt out,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the construction. “He insisted it was his business since this project has Shell's name all over it.… There was quite a commotion on the dock.” (http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-arctic-challenger-...) Perhaps the Superior Energy manager was just following instructions to keep costs down despite Shell's generous funding to overhaul a 50 year old barge. The spills were considered so small that Shell only had to pay $250 for each infraction.

One of the Shell’s drillships drifted out of control, dragging its anchor. This ship is currently under Coast Guard investigation. At the end of June, Shell asked the Environmental Protection Agency to permit Shell ships to emit more nitrogen oxide than originally permitted as well as an unlimited amount of ammonia. (http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/morning_call/2012/07/shells-arctic-dr...)

"In September, a key test of underwater oil-spill equipment was a spectacular failure. It forced the energy giant to postpone drilling into oil-bearing rocks beneath the Arctic Ocean until next summer. Shell and its federal regulators have been tight-lipped about the failed test. But a freedom-of-information request reveals what happened beneath the surface of Puget Sound. The containment dome test was supposed to take about a day. That estimate proved to be wildly optimistic.

  • Day 1: The Arctic Challenger's massive steel dome comes unhooked from some of the winches used to maneuver it underwater. The crew has to recover it and repair it.
  • Day 2: A remote-controlled submarine gets tangled in some anchor lines. It takes divers about 24 hours to rescue the submarine.
  • Day 5: The test has its worst accident. On that dead-calm Friday night, Mark Fesmire, the head of BSEE’s Alaska office, is on board the Challenger. He’s watching the underwater video feed from the remote-control submarine when, a little after midnight, the video screen suddenly fills with bubbles. The 20-foot-tall containment dome then shoots to the surface. The massive white dome “breached like a whale,” Fesmire e-mails a colleague.

    Then the dome sinks more than 120 feet. A safety buoy, basically a giant balloon, catches it before it hits bottom. About 12 hours later, the crew of the Challenger manages to get the dome back to the surface. “As bad as I thought,” Fesmire writes his BSEE colleague. “Basically the top half is crushed like a beer can.”

Representatives of Shell declined to answer questions or allow interviews about the mishaps." (http://www.kuow.org/post/sea-trial-leaves-shells-arctic-oil-spill-gear-c...)

Later, Shell produced the following press release on the test: "Over the last several days, Shell has successfully completed a series of tests of the first-ever Arctic Containment System. However, during a final test, the containment dome aboard the Arctic Challenger barge was damaged. It is clear that some days will be required to repair and fully assess dome readiness." (http://www.shell.com/global/aboutshell/media/news-and-media-releases/201...)

Although unable to drill this year, Shell had already sent two drilling vessels to Alaska in anticipation that the Arctic Challenger oil spill cleanup barge would be available to clean up spills as required by law. However, the Shell Arctic drilling vessel, Noble Discoverer, "was held by the Coast Guard in Seward, Alaska, in November after it lost propulsion and inspectors found safety discrepancies. That ship will be towed to Seattle for repairs, a Coast Guard spokesman said." (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-30/shell-says-arctic-drilling-rig-...)

When a Shell ship failed to meet the 25 foot once a century ocean wave test, Shell's solution was simple: we can meet a 20 foot once-in-ten-years ocean wave test. 

On Monday night, December 31st, the other drilling ship, the Kulluk with its 150,000 gallons of fuel, found itself in 25 to 30 foot waves and "broke away from one of its tow lines on Monday afternoon and was driven to rocks just off Kodiak Island". However, we should all be reassured because the ship was rescued without any spill. (http://news.yahoo.com/drifting-shell-drill-ship-grounds-rocks-off-alaska...) According to the Rachel Maddow cable show on MSNBC, the ship was likely leaving its Alaskan port before January 1st in order to avoid paying Alaskan taxes that would come into effect on that date. This is a common practice among many fishing vessels in Alaska. 

And in a rare oil company compliment to the Obama administration and government regulations, Shell said that the regulatory process over the last 18 months was “a model of how offshore permitting could and should work.” (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/shell-ends-alaska-offshore-dri...)

"At this point, the Obama administration is still backing Shell. 'Through Shell's efforts, tremendous progress has been made and valuable lessons will be learned as the company carefully and deliberately moves forward with Arctic exploration activities,' says Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. 'As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy, we look forward to continuing to work with Shell to maximize the remaining opportunities this drilling season provides while doing so in a manner that expands domestic energy production, creates jobs, protects people, and safeguards our natural resources.' ” (http://magblog.audubon.org/content/shell’s-setback-highlights-environmental-risks-drilling-arctic-waters)

Of course, with Harper's energy project review process in place, Canadians do not have to worry about encountering any of these problems or having to foot the economic and environmental costs of oil exploration and drilling. After all, instead of a Shell comedy of errors, Canadians will face a joke on us. And remember the above is all from a single oil company in a single season. Imagine the oil-filled barrel of laughs when all the oil companies get involved in Arctic exploration and drilling.

 


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

Although the Kulluk, a oil rig contracted by Shell that ran aground off Alaska on December 31st,  has not leaked any oil yet, a cargo plane has brought thousands of feet of containment booms today to the nearest community, Old Harbor, to the site of the Kulluk’s grounding on Sitkalidak Island. The boom will be moved by to the site of  Kulluk’s grounding as a precaution because the grounding has caused some damage to the vessel. Shell's comedy of errors off Alaska could yet turn into tragedy for wildlife and people.

http://www.ktuu.com/news/kulluk-has-suffered-damage-since-grounding-hasn...


jerrym
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Because of the many failures (noted above) and ignoring of environmental, construction and shipping regulations, Michael Brune, the Excutive Director of the Sierra Club, called for the immediate revoiking of Shell's drilling permits in the Arctic in the following press release:

"In just one year, Shell has proven over and over again that they are completely incapable of safely drilling in the Arctic. Their ships have caught fire and lost control, they’ve damaged their own spill containment equipment, and they’ve been caught entirely unprepared for the challenges of the Arctic…This is the last straw.  We should judge Shell not by their assurances or their PR tactics, but by their record – and Shell’s record clearly demonstrates that letting them operate in the Arctic is an invitation for disaster." (http://action.sierraclub.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=271165.0)

Charles Clusen, the director of National Parks and Alaska Projects for the Natural Resources Defense Council, is quoted by Bloomsberg News as saying “This string of mishaps by Shell makes it crystal clear that we are not ready to drill in the Arctic. Shell is not Arctic-ready. We are asking the Obama administration to immediately put a hold on all permitting activities.” (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-03/rig-grounding-revives-debate-ov...)

The blogger Farron Cousins concludes that "The disaster that occurred with their offshore drilling rig Kulluk on New Year’s Eve only served to prove that the company is not to be trusted." (http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/01/03/shell-s-rig-failure-proves-company-...)

Given Harper's track record, he is much more likely to see this as an opportunity to promote the transfer of Shell's Arctic activity to the Canadian Arctic as a replacement for the growing opposition to its Alaska operations than to take heed of these warnings. 


quizzical
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"Another massive resource project is before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

Some time in the new year, four federal ministers are to decide how to conduct an environmental review for the Izok Corridor proposal. It could bring many billions of dollars into the Arctic but would also see development of open-pit mines, roads, ports and other facilities in the centre of calving grounds for the fragile Bathurst caribou herd.

It would be hard to exaggerate the proposal’s scope. Centred at Izok Lake, about 260 kilometres (160 miles) southeast of Kugluktuk, the project would stretch throughout a vast swath of western Nunavut.

Izok Lake would have five separate underground and open-pit mines producing lead, zinc and copper. Another site at High Lake, 300 kilometres (185 miles) to the northeast, would have another three mines.

MMG also wants a processing plant that could handle 6,000 tonnes of ore a day, tank farms for 35 million litres (9.2 million gallons) of diesel, two permanent camps totalling 1,000 beds, airstrips and a 350-kilometre (217-mile) all-weather road with 70 bridges that would stretch from Izok Lake to Grays Bay on the central Arctic coast."

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/canada-consider-massive-chinese-owned-arctic-metals-mine


kropotkin1951
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Let none of us forget that Canadian mining companies have been running roughshod over communities around the globe.  It remains to be seen whether the Chinese will resort to murder and other violence to silence aboriginal voices as their Canadian counterparts do in so many other jurisdictions.


quizzical
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i didn't give 1 thought to what canadian mining companies are doing somewhere else. it's NOT what this thread is 'bout.

i did give several thoughts 'bout how it's going to impact our environment, species at risk and northern First Nations. it doesn't matter whose doing it, it matters what and how they wanna do it.

ya got any thoughts on the topic at hand?


kropotkin1951
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I thought this was about inappropriate mining activity in a sensitive environment not the nationality of the mining company.  This is the tenth project to be floated and seemingly the largest and most destructive and it needs to be stopped but the fact that it is a proposal from a Chinese company is totally irrelevant.

Quote:

However more than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments have registered concerns about this project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

...

The board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines either operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.


jerrym
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Greenpeace Canada has also issued a statement condemning Shell's Alaska offshore oil exploration and the idea of exploring and drilling for oil in Arctic waters anywhere.

"In another example of why drilling for oil in the Arctic is such a monumentally bad idea, Shell’s drilling rig, the Kulluk, has run aground off the island of Sitkalidak, near Kodiak in Alaska. ...

We already know about the terrible impact spills can have in Alaska. In 1989 the Exxon-Valdeztanker crashed on Bligh Reef and spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into Prince William Sound, covering huge areas of sea and coastline with a coating of thick crude and killing thousands of birds, sea otters, seals and orca. Even today the region is suffering from the after effects.

Sadly, this sort of incident, this time with the Kulluk, isn’t new to Shell. Its attempts to drill for oil in the freezing Chukchi and Beaufort Seas have been hit by accidents and mishaps every step of the way: from beached drill ships to flaming engines, and from failed safety inspections to key equipment being “crushed like a beer can”, Shell’s attempts to find oil in the Arctic have lurched from one expensive and reckless farce to another.

It claims to have a “world class” Arctic programme in place to deal with any accidents, but the running aground of the Kulluk again shows how utterly incapable Shell is of operating safely in one of the planet's most remote and extreme environments.

Were the pristine environment of the frozen north not at risk of an oil spill it would be almost comical. Instead it’s tragic.

Rather than opening up the high north to oil firms we need to keep this fragile place off-limits to reckless industrialisation.

http://www.greenpeace.org/canada/en/Blog/shells-arctic-drilling-plans-go...


jerrym
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The Kulluk grounding, which required an Alaskan response team of 600 people, in addition to raising concerns about oil drilling anywhere in the Arctic Ocean, also raises concerns about oil drilling and tanker traffic off the BC coast. The grounding comes during the federal Joint Review Panel, which is "conducting a review of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway project in British Columbia begins a series of hearings in Victoria and Vancouver. If the Enbridge project goes ahead, more large tankers carrying oil, under tow by tugs in inside waters, would begin plying the north coast of B.C., which is similar to the area in the Gulf of Alaska where the Kulluk ran into trouble." This would not only override aboriginal rights along the Northern Gateway pipeline but endanger their fishing rights in the ocean as well as those of First Nations on Haida Gwaii.

"Ian McAllister, a director with Pacific Wild, said the inability of Alaska authorities to bring the situation quickly under control is a reminder of how vulnerable B.C. would be if a large oil tanker went adrift. 'I can’t imagine it’s that different to have a drill rig of that size, or a very large crude carrier fully laden, in storm conditions. It is similar in terms of trying to secure it and what the aftermath might be.' "

McAllister went on to note that because of all the oil spill response resources that Alaska has developed over the past decades it is much better able to respond to an oil spill than British Columbia would be. However, even with all the resources it has, Alaska still "was struggling to contain the situation. 'Alaska has evolved in tug capacity and whatnot in their long history of shipping oil through there. Arguably BC wouldn’t see the kind of resources that they were able to put towards that drill rig. It would probably take 40 or 50 years for British Columbia to get [a response capacity] like that. It is a poignant reminder of what we could experience here.' "

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/grounding-of-kulluk...

 


quizzical
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kropotkin1951 wrote:
I thought this was about inappropriate mining activity in a sensitive environment not the nationality of the mining company.  This is the tenth project to be floated and seemingly the largest and most destructive and it needs to be stopped but the fact that it is a proposal from a Chinese company is totally irrelevant.
Quote:

However more than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments have registered concerns about this project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

...

The board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines either operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.

the Chinese ownship factor in this from what i read is to do with the reality they're the only ones who currently see a value in mining zinc. which i found interesting as what is the world using huge amounts of zinc for anyway?

 


jerrym
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quizzical wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:
I thought this was about inappropriate mining activity in a sensitive environment not the nationality of the mining company.  This is the tenth project to be floated and seemingly the largest and most destructive and it needs to be stopped but the fact that it is a proposal from a Chinese company is totally irrelevant.
Quote:

However more than 400 individuals, organizations, aboriginal groups and governments have registered concerns about this project with the Nunavut Impact Review Board.

...

The board also expressed concern about the growing industrial footprint in western Nunavut. There are now nine mines either operating or under review in the Kitikmeot region.

the Chinese ownship factor in this from what i read is to do with the reality they're the only ones who currently see a value in mining zinc. which i found interesting as what is the world using huge amounts of zinc for anyway?

 

Although I only briefly mentioned the Chinese firm in the opening post, it is not irrelevant. When I created the title of the thread, I wanted to put in foreign ownership as another Harper generated issue that is contributing to Canada's problems, along with the aboriginal, environmental and Arctic issues, in the title but ran out of space. As more and more of our economy is taken over, whether by Americans, Chinese or anyone else, our ability to make our own decisions about what happens in our economy and environment comes under greater foreign control.

I have been against the high level of foreign control of our economy in Canada since I was a teenager in the 1960s. As Canada loses more control of its resources to foreign nations, it loses more and more of its ability to create solutions that are Canadian-based. While Canada's record on the environment and aboriginal issues has been poor, I do not see any foreign corporation as offering anything more than the minimum needed in this regard to avoid rejection of their project. This is the history of foreign corporations, including Canadian ones, around the world because to the extent that they do respond to government pressure, it is primarily to the nation where they are headquartered. In the same way that First Nations or rural communities have their natural resources ripped off for the development of non-aboriginal and urban society in Canada, Canada historically and at an accelerating rate under Harper, is selling off Canada to foreign control. Slowing down the selloff of our resources to foreign interests gives a future Canadian government (certainly not this one), time to set stronger environmental standards and an opportunity to deal more equitably with the Inuit and First Nations. 


kropotkin1951
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Yes foreign ownership is wrong but not because it is Asian companies that now have the cash to buy up resources.  Harper is consistent.  The global "trade"deals are a two way street. The reason I mentioned our mining companies because they are the largest in the world and everywhere they rely on "free trade" agreements.  In Canada we tend to look at how some of those deals allowed our jobs to be exported but we often overlook the corporations based in Canada that benefit from them.  It is Canadian mining companies that Harper represents when he sells out Canada because those companies get the reciprocal right to screw people in other parts of the globe. 

We need to focus on the real players not only their political lackeys like Harper.


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

 

The plans to open five mines at the Izok Lake near the border between Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, and to open three more mines at nearby High Lake is raising strong environmental concerns with many organizations both within and outside of Nunavut.

"To access the Izok Lake deposit, which is beneath the water, it is necessary to build a dam and drain the water into a nearby lake. Three lakes will have to be drained at the High Lake site. Grays Bay, the prospective site of MMG’s (the Chinese firm behind the project) seaport, would be filled in. Also of concern is the road, with its 70 bridges. The road cuts across important calving grounds for the Bathurst caribou herd, which is still recovering from a 90 per cent population decrease in the 1980s. Aboriginal groups as far afield as Saskatchewan rely on this herd. When the plans were filed with the Nunavut Impact Review Board, over 400 questions and concerns were submitted by individuals, organizations, Aboriginal groups, and government groups."

http://www.themanitoban.com/2013/01/cabinet-considers-izok-lake-proposal...


jerrym
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The grounding of the Shell Arctic drilling rig, Kulluk, in the Gulf of Alaska is continuing to raise alarm among environmentalists about oil exploration in the American and Canadian Arctic. They note that if the rig had run into trouble where it was drilling 1,600 kilometres from Coast Guard resources, instead of a few kilometres off the Alaskan coast, the Coast Guard would have been unable to come to its rescue. 

Environmentalists also emphasize that the Beaufort and the Chukchi seas in the Arctic are "some of the wildest and most remote ecosystems on the planet. They also are among the most fragile, supporting polar bears, the ice seals they feed on, walrus, endangered whales and other marine mammals that Alaska Natives depend on for their subsistence culture." They also note that the Arctic Ocean is much more dangerous than the Gulf of Alaska where the Kulluk ran aground. 

http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/science/environment/grounding-shows-arctic-...

The rescue of the Kulluk crew was also risky "Even for experienced U.S. Coast Guard crews, the situation with the Kulluk was hairy," showing that the risk to oil rig workers and their rescuers in northern waters are extremely high. The fact that the towing ship stalled all four engines because of contaminated fuel and that its tow lines repeatedly broke show that Shell and other oil companies have little interest in crew or environmental safety. 

"With a sea state of 20-plus seas and winds upwards of 40 to 50 knots, vessels and rigs like this do not ride that well," Vislay said in an interview with the Daily News this week. The pitching motion, he said, was severe. The evacuation plan was to hover a helicopter over the rig's helo deck, lower a basket and hoist the crew one by one, Vislay said. On a pitching rig, it's too dangerous to land. The winds were pummeling. It was dark. Waves were crashing near the helo pad, the one open area. The emergency towline was connected to the rig near the pad, complicating the approach. The way the rig was positioned, the helicopters couldn't fly nose into the wind. And at the rig's center was a swaying, 160-foot-tall derrick. 'It makes the hoist very challenging because you don't want to get hit by that tower,' Vislay said. Piping, rigging, beams, cranes and other Kulluk features made maneuvering extra challenging, he said. The Coast Guard considered putting a rescue swimmer into the water and directing the Kulluk crew, in insulated survival suits, to jump in. That would have eliminated some hazards but created new ones, he said.

http://www.adn.com/2013/01/04/2742726/xg.html

Shell's plans to continue to explore Arctic waters for oil this year hinge on how quickly it can repair an oil rig damaged last week off the coast of Alaska, according to analysts. It needs to either repair Kulluk or to replace the rig before the Arctic drilling season begins, normally in mid-July. However, replacing the Kullik with another rig "would be tricky business. Only three Arctic-class drilling rigs exist in the world, and even obtaining a traditional floating rig would be hard work, said James West, an analyst with Barclays Capital."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142412788732423510457824151232177760...

The possibility of a delay in Arctic oil exploration may help Canadian and Americam environmentalists to launch a major campaign to stop the destruction of the Arctic and the further increase in global warming that any new fossil fuel resources generated here would help bring about. 

 


Policywonk
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jerrym wrote:

The grounding of the Shell Arctic drilling rig, Kulluk, in the Gulf of Alaska is continuing to raise alarm among environmentalists about oil exploration in the American and Canadian Arctic. They note that if the rig had run into trouble where it was drilling 1,600 kilometres from Coast Guard resources, instead of a few kilometres off the Alaskan coast, the Coast Guard would have been unable to come to its rescue. 

Alaska also has a coast on the Chuchi and Beaufort Seas where a few kilometres off the Alaskan coast could apply as easily as in the Gulf of Alaska.


jerrym
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Greenpeace has called the leaked Arctic Council Agreement that deals with oil spills "vague and inadequate". Greenpeace points out that The agreement asks so little of Canada, Denmark, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the US, that it is effectively useless. The document, entitled Co-operation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic, is set to be adopted by foreign ministers at the main Arctic nations meeting in May.

A draft obtained by Greenpeace contains vague language asking countries to take ‘appropriate steps’ to deal with a spill, but without specifying a minimum level for what those might be; and contains a series of major omissions including any discussion of oil company liabilities or effective arrangements in case of a transboundary incident.

Ben Ayliffe, head of the Arctic Oil campaign for Greenpeace International, said: “This draft agreement does not inspire confidence in the ability of the Arctic Council to protect this fragile region when the worst happens. It’s incredibly vague, it fails to hold oil companies liable for the impact of their mistakes, and there is nothing here that ensures adequate capacity to deal with a spill in these nations. 

Despite promises that this would be the first legally-binding agreement of its kind, it fails to outline any essential response equipment, methods for capping wells, or cleaning up oiled habitat and wildlife, relying instead on vague statements that Arctic nations should “ensure” they try and take “appropriate steps within available resources. No oil company has ever proven it can clean up an oil spill in ice. The agreement offers nothing whatsoever in terms of identifying how a company would stop and clean up a Deepwater Horizon-style disaster,” Ayliffe continued. “Instead, this document is akin to the UN Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty simply saying, ‘If it’s not too much trouble, please have a national plan to not detonate atomic bombs’.”

The Arctic Council fails to set out a minimum set of technical capabilities that nations need to have in place before drilling. Given that many Arctic drilling areas are exceptionally remote, there is no guarantee that resources would be either available or adequate."

http://www.canadianprogressiveworld.com/2013/02/05/arctic-council-oil-sp...

 

 


jerrym
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Scott Vaughan, who is the Canadian Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in his very last report to Parliament before leaving his job after five years emphasizes that the Harper government's aggressive pursuit of resource development at all costs is exposing Canadians to heightened environmental and financial risks that are not being properly handled by federal regulators.

He noted that the "government is not keeping sufficient tabs on mining in the North," in addition to failing to regulate offshore drilling in the Atlantic and hydraulic fracking across the country.

He also "found that in many cases, government regulators can't, or won't, figure out what they are supposed to be doing. They are reeling from dramatic changes to environmental legislation, outdated requirements, confusing lines of responsibility and large holes of missing information.... Vaughan raised similar red flags about the government’s methods of mitigating financial risks stemming from environmental damage. Liability limits for nuclear accidents or oil spills are decades out of date, he said, leaving taxpayers exposed to huge financial risk if something goes wrong.

For example, companies would only have to cover a maximum of $40 million in damages in case of an offshore spill in the Arctic. ... In the North, Vaughan is especially concerned that officials with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada are not inspecting mining operations to make sure companies are living up to their obligations.

Changes to the Fisheries Act included in last summer's omnibus bill have left regulators unsure about what kind of compensation plans companies should have in place, the report notes.

At the same time, tanker traffic and marine transportation of oil and gas is soaring.

"These findings, when considered with our concerns regarding preparedness to effectively respond to a major oil spill, show clearly that Canadians are exposed to environmental risks and the financial implications that go with them," Vaughan writes.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/arts-and-life/life/greenpage/environmen...

 


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

The atrocious record of Canadian, American, and Chinese fossil fuel corporations in the Arctic continues. The United States Coast Guard has found 16 violations in its investigation of the Royal Dutch Shell PLC Arctic drill ship, the Noble Discoverer. As a result of these violations, the Coast Guard has turned over the investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice.  

"The violations included fire hazards and problems with the propulsion system that didn't allow the ship to operate at a sufficient speed at sea to safely manoeuvr in all expected conditions."

U.S. Representative Ed Markey, who is currently running for senator in Massachesetts, points out in a letter sent to Shell President Marvin Odum: "The reports that Shell may have been drilling this summer using a drill ship with serious deficiencies in its safety and pollution control equipment raise additional and continued questions about whether Shell is able to drill safely offshore in the Arctic, and raises serious questions regarding the nature and adequacy of Shell's compliance with applicable laws and regulations," Markey wrote in the letter to Odum.

Markey then asks how Shell "plans to address problems and what changes will be instituted going forward."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2013/02/23/north-shell-drill-v...

 

 


jerrym
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Shell, the only company drilling for oil in the Arctic during 2012, has just announced that it will not drlll for Arctic oil in 2013. However, it said that is still committed to Arctic drilling in the future despite major problems with both its drill ships in 2012, including one of them running aground and in spite of the expenditure of $5 billion in a failed attempt to find oil.

Shell needs to pause in its Arctic drilling in order to repair its drill ships and to redesign its emergency spill containment system, which failed miserably in 2012.

This also helps Obama having to decide whether to allow drilling while a review of last year's problem is going on. 

http://www.chron.com/business/energy/article/Shell-calls-off-2013-Arctic...


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) of the United States Department of the Interior has launched an expedited assessment on January 8th of the 2012 offshore drilling program of Shell Oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska. 

"The review, which is expected to be completed by March 9, is focusing on the problems that Shell encountered in connection with certification of its containment vessel, the Arctic Challenger; the deployment of its containment dome; and operational issues associated with the two drilling vessels, the Noble Discoverer and the Kulluk.

A separate federal inquiry into the grounding of the Kulluk is also underway.

Congressman Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who is the Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, today asked for an expansion of the BOEM review of offshore Arctic drilling prospects, given the additional time Shell’s postponement allows.

'After bumbling through a year of mishaps, beachings, and complete safety failures, it’s clear that Shell and the oil industry were not ready to drill in the Arctic,' said Markey. 'This postponement is the right decision and should allow the Department of Interior the time it needs to do a full review of the oil industry’s capability to handle the harsh conditions in the Arctic.'

In a letter to (Shell President) Marvin Odum dated February 22, Markey wrote, 'The reports that Shell may have been drilling this summer using a drill ship with serious deficiencies in its safety and pollution control equipment raise additional and continued questions about whether Shell is able to drill safely offshore in the Arctic and raises serious questions regarding the nature and adequacy of Shell’s compliance with applicable laws and regulations.'

'It is imperative that any drilling operations in the Arctic Ocean occur with the highest levels of safety and environmental protections in place, and I am not convinced that these levels can ever be met given the extreme weather conditions and Shell’s performance thus far,' the congressman wrote.' "

http://ens-newswire.com/2013/02/27/shell-oil-cancels-offshore-alaska-dri...

It will be interesting to see whether the report whitewashes Shell and future Arctic drilling or not. A review that is highly criticial of Arctic drilling as done by Shell could cause problems for Harper's fossil fuel agenda in the Arctic. 

 

 

 


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

The US Department of the Interior review of Shell's 2012 Arctic drilling problems shows that its planning, selection and monitoring of contractors involved in the process was completely inadequate, and that it failed to obtain the required certification for drilling in the hazardous Arctic but was allowed to drill anyway. However, instead of expressing concern about the failures of Shell, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, opened the media release of the review with a boast about how much the Obama administration had helped increase American oil and gas production: ”Under the president’s leadership domestic oil production has grown every year …..  Oil imports have dropped to 45%, the lowest percentage since 1995.”

The Obama administration's approach was summed up by Salazar's further comment that "“Last summer we allowed Shell to proceed with limited activity in Alaska’s Arctic.  Because Shell wasn’t able to meet safety requirements, they were only allowed to drill preliminary holes."

From the report (emphasis added):

This review has confirmed that Shell entered the drilling season not fully prepared in terms of fabricating and testing certain critical systems and establishing the scope of its operational plans. The lack of adequate preparation put pressure on Shell’s overall operations and timelines at the end of the drilling season. Indeed, because Shell was unable to get certified and then deploy its specialized Arctic Containment System (ACS) – which the Department of the Interior (DOI) required to be on site in the event of a loss of well control – the company was not allowed to drill into hydrocarbon-bearing zones. Shell’s failure to deploy the ACS system was due, in turn, to shortcomings in Shell’s management and oversight of key contractors. Likewise, additional problems encountered by Shell – including significant violations identified during United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) inspection of the Noble Discoverer drilling rig in Seward last November, the lost tow and grounding of the Kulluk rig near Kodiak Island in late December, and violations of air emission permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – also indicate serious deficiencies in Shell’s management of contractors, as well as its oversight and execution of operations in the extreme and unpredictable conditions offshore of Alaska.

http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/125073/DOI_Shell_Failed_to_Finaliz...

 

Even an article from an industry magazine detailed Shell's Arctic failures.

Salazar noted that "Working in the Arctic requires thorough advanced planning and preparation, rigorous management focus, a close watch over contractors, and reliance on experienced, specialized operators who are familiar with the uniquely challenging conditions of the Alaska offshore," Salazar commented during a conference call Thursday with reporters.

While Salazar admitted that "Shell fell short in this area, which contributed to many of the problems it faced, including the inability to deploy a functioning containment system, as well as the violation of air emissions requirements Shell encountered", he said Shell could learn from its mistakes and after a one year pause in 2013 could resume drilling next year. 

http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/125073/DOI_Shell_Failed_to_Finaliz...

 

Sounds like Salazar, who is leaving his post this month, could easily get a job doing envrionmental reviews for Northern Gateway and Arctic drilling in Canada with the Harper government if he's in need of a job. I'm sure Harper will be at least looking to crib from Salazar's report when Arctic drilling problems arise here. 

 

 

 

 


jerrym
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Joined: May 30 2009

The prospect of global warming opening up the Arctic, at least in the summer, to an oil and mineral bonanza is bringing about an increasing militarization of the region by the US, Canada, Russia and even China. The very process that is bringing about global warming and is also the equivalent of the canary in the coal mine is causing all of these governments to see dollar signs that they want to protect with military might rather than as a warning to cease and desist from the very activities that are creating the problem. This could lead to confrontations between nations similar to that already seen in the South China Sea between Japan, China, South Korea and the Philippines over who owns which disputed islands and the resources in the nearby waters. 

"Increased activity in the Arctic — brought on by the decrease in icebound waters during the summer months — could lead to more requests for U.S. and Canadian military assistance to other government agencies, the head of U.S. Northern Command(NORTHCOM) says.

U.S. Army Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr. told the Senate Armed Services Committeetoday (March 19) that “other traditional military actors” are already setting priorities for the region. For example: Russia is actively recapitalizing its Arctic-focused fleet. And China — which doesn’t even have any territory in the Arctic, but is looking for maritime short cuts in the High North to cut the travel time of its merchant ships — is acquiring a second icebreaker. The U.S. has two ice breakers — the Healy and the massive Polar Star, both based in Seattle — far from the Arctic.

In his testimony before the committee, Jacoby — who also commands the joint U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) — said NORTHCOM and NORAD have signed an agreement with the Canadian Joint Operations Command to support other government departments and agencies “in response to threats and hazards in the region when requested or directed.”

Sea lanes across the Arctic have been opening up with the summer melt of sea ice in recent years. For the first time, this accessability is expected to draw more oil drilling, commercial fishing, shipping activity and sightseeing in the harsh environment (See March 6 posting on 4GWAR)

Jacoby also said U.S. military leaders were reaching out to engage with the Russian military, which has been expanding its modernization and training efforts “that extend the range of patrol activities by their air forces.”

The fourth annual Vigilant Eagle counter hijacking exercise between the U.S. and Russia is slated for August 2013. It will be a live-fly exercise involving a variety of NORAD and Russian military aircraft."

http://4gwar.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/arctic-northcoms-arctic-plans-alas...

 


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

NATO is already there in full force. Its Cold Response 2012 war games in Norway included scenarios where they were responding to local demonstrations and terrorists. Its comforting to know that our military is already practicing coordinated actions to deal with anyone who tries to stop the oil and gas development in the Arctic including of course the people who live there.

Partnership for Peace could not be a more Orwellian name.

Quote:

The NM website further described the exercise as one “to rehearse high intensity operations in winter conditions within NATO with a UN mandate”, adding that “everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats and mass demonstrations” would be “handled” by participants. And, according to a NM press release, “approximately 16000 participants from 15 nations (both Nato and PfP {Partnership for Peace})” were involved, with the “main international forces” (those other than Norwegian) coming from “Canada, France, The Netherlands, Sweden, UK and USA”.

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/22/nato-in-the-arctic/

 


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