Self declared shipping experts

Dire warnings from pundits and letter writers who have suddenly become shipping experts, declaring war on tankers in local waters.

So many B.C. newspapers are filled with dire warnings from pundits and letter writers who have suddenly become shipping experts, declaring war on tankers in local waters.

The scribblers have recently lost one of their guiding lights, namely B.C. Green Party MLA and Nobel Laureate Andrew Weaver, just a few short weeks after he appeared in Toronto with fellow environmentalist luminaries Neil Young and David Suzuki.

Weaver has suddenly declared himself a pragmatist in supporting David Black’s Kitimat refinery proposal. However, the MLA prefers to refine bitumen in Alberta, and pipe petroleum products across B.C. for shipment to China.

At long last, a leading light who has seen the light; the same light that guided me to an identical Alberta refinery conclusion some years ago — with the caveat that Prince Rupert should be the coastal terminal of the Northern Gateway.

The motley crew of new-found maritime experts must be flailing around like rudderless vessels now that one of their fleet admirals has seemingly jumped ship into the real world. As predictable as the tides, they launch wave after wave of misinformation about tanker safety, trying to sink Northern Gateway, but I urge them to take heed of another huge maritime project.

Although research will be something very new for this uber-vocal minority, they can start by Googling “London Gateway.” That’s the name of a deep-water port whose first stage has just opened in the Essex suburbs near England’s capital. It’s built on industrial wasteland, ironically the site of a former oil refinery, to which a huge area of reclaimed land has been added — created largely with silt dredged from a 100 kilometre-long channel in the river estuary and the North Sea.

It will accommodate the newest class of 400 metre-long vessels that can each carry over 18,000 containers. The first such behemoth is scheduled to berth at London Gateway in a couple of months, and economic benefits are tremendous for governments, shippers, workers, retailers and consumers. Of course, UK environmentalists had a say during the several years this project took to build, and 350,000 wild creatures were captured unharmed and relocated; species of newts, bats, water voles, badgers, snakes, etc were all taken care of, in the name of progress.

Being progressive is something that B.C. environmentalists — those self-declared shipping experts — could learn about, instead of always making regressive claims about tanker safety. It is indeed the Tale Of Two Gateways.

Bernie Smith


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