Oct 9, 2012 / 8:34 pm
A small group of protesters greeted the environmental review panel weighing the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline Tuesday as the hearings returned to British Columbia where the pipeline proponent will face cross-examination about the plans.
Members of the local Carrier-Sekani First Nations and conservationists held signs telling Enbridge to go home.
The $6-billion project would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta oilsands through northern BC to a tanker port in Kitimat, for transport to markets in Asia.
The final hearings getting under way in Prince George will see company officials and interveners questioned under oath about environmental and socio-economic effects of the pipeline, safety standards and accident prevention and response.
Terry Teegee, vice-tribal Chief for the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, said the protest is meant to send a message to Enbridge and to the panel.
"We don't want this project in our territories, or British Columbia or the coastal waters," Teegee said in an interview.
The Carrier-Sekani are not participating in the panel process because Teegee said the panel does not have a mandate to examine aboriginal rights or the cumulative effects of a pipeline.
"I think where we see our fight is in the courts," Teegee said. "We're going to be seeing this potentially go to court if it is approved."
Todd Nogier, a spokesman for Enbridge Northern Gateway, said the hearings are a chance for the company to answer questions about pipeline design and safety.
"We're looking forward to having that detail put out in the public domain and to the (panel)," he said.
Nogier added this round of hearings will show the "tremendous" level of detail that's gone into the project design.
Melinda Worfolk was one of about 30 people who gathered midday in front of the community centre where the hearings are taking place this week.
"It would change the landscape drastically in this place that really has an amazing environment and wilderness and biodiversity. And once that's gone, no amount of money can make it up."
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