I read with interest and great concern a guest column ‘Refinery would be cutting-edge’ by David Black in the April 24 edition of The NEWS.
Black deserves praise for his stand and concern of bitumen spills and his rejection of the use of tankers on the Pacific coast for this purpose. But, I find myself in total disagreement with Black when he introduces the concept of the construction of a new state-of-the-art refinery in Kitimat.
How can Black justify Kitimat for the location of such a refinery? The bitumen would still be pumped from Alberta to the West Coast and the diluents from the coast to Alberta. The cost of energy to perform that task would be very high. Although Black claims that the pipelines will be of exceptional high quality, nevertheless he will not be able to guarantee with a 100 per cent certainty that there will be no breaks.
Any spill even of a small amount of bitumen will have an extremely deleterious impact on the environment and therefore is totally unacceptable. I could understand if Black would want to build the refinery at the source (Alberta) to avoid such an eventuality. Therefore, why Kitimat?
However, much more importantly, I find it very frightening that a leader of our modern society such as Black would even contemplate an insane undertaking of a refinery in today’s world. Considering the background of the most recent UN Report on Climate Change, it should make any future petrol/chemical undertaking questionable.
Any socially responsible industrial leader should be concerned and must strive to minimize climate change. However, Black seems to be working in the opposite direction. I realize that he uses the “creation of jobs” as a major rational, but on closer examination that is an unacceptable excuse for short-sighted policies that work against any environmental principles and ultimately the survival of our society as we know it today.