Letter: Canadians need to refine oil where they mine it

So says one West Kelowna reader

To the editor:

Most people living in British Columbia are not against pipelines. Many are in favour of the natural gas pipeline now proposed to terminate in Kitimat. But a sizeable majority are against pipelines carrying diluted bitumen (dilbit) to be refined in the U.S. or offshore. Bitumen is the crudest of crude oil, containing many toxic chemicals. And we are not privy to what the diluents are. It’s a trade secret!

B.C. and Alberta cannot legally determine and disclose what is in dilbit. Our best information comes from Washington State because they demand higher levels of disclosure.

The proposed Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will pump roughly 500,000 barrels per day through B.C. and we are prevented from identifying what they are pumping through our territory. Apparently, corporate interests trump our interests.

Pipeline and ship tanker oil spills have occurred in the past and they will occur in the future. The dilbit transport industry will not be capable of handling these spills. In a worst case scenario, they will simply declare bankruptcy and set up a new enterprise across the street. So the public will inevitably have to clean up the mess. But we will be handicapped by trade secrets and the imperative to protect corporate interests. It’s hard to prepare for spills when you are prevented from knowing what you are dealing with.

Let’s look at another more positive scenario. Bitumen gets upgraded in Alberta then shipped as a high grade crude to market. There would be no proprietary trade secrets. We would then know what we are dealing with. And we minimize the toxicity inherent in dilbit.

I’m calling out to all Canadians including those in Alberta. Let’s pursue a “refine it where you mine it” strategy.

Steve Burke

West Kelowna

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