Meeting Summary - 20 January 2011 - Gwich'in Band Office, Aklavik, NT

Arctic Offshore Drilling Review

Meeting Summary

Date and Location
Date Location
Thursday
20 January 2011
12:00 p.m. to 13:30 p.m.
Gwich'in Band Office
Aklavik, NT

Purpose: Introduce the Arctic Offshore Drilling Review to the Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council

Participants
Participants
Charlie Furlong
Michael Greenland
Andrew Charlie
Sandra H
Anne Marie McLeod
Ron Carmichael
Rita Arey
Bruce 
Ian McLeod
 
Gaétan Caron Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NEB
David Hamilton Member, NEB
Brian Chambers Northern Advisor, NEB
Bharat Dixit Technical Leader, Conservation of Resources, NEB
Pamela Romanchuk Environmental Specialist, NEB
Susan Gudgeon Northern Coordinator, Arctic Offshore Drilling Review, NEB

Introductory Remarks (NEB):

  • An overview of the Arctic Offshore Drilling Review was provided, including the mandate of the NEB, the events leading up to the Review and the phases of the Review.
  • The Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council were asked "what questions do people want answered before the NEB looks at an application for offshore drilling?

Dialogue with Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council:

In response to the question put forward, a number of areas of interest and concern were raised by Ehdiitat Gwich'in Council, including:

  1. Emergency Response and Preparedness:

    • Conventional means of cleanup cannot be done in the Arctic
    • There is limited or no technology to date to do cleanup in the Arctic - there is lots of theory but how it will actually work isn't known
    • In the past people were trained and when something happened no one panicked and everything went smoothly
    • Is there a protocol for applications that companies have to state their procedure if there is a spill, how they will go about things, timeframes, etc.
    • What happens if there is no more money to clean things up

  2. General:

    • A list of studies of the Beaufort area were done in the Berger days
    • How did the incident in the Gulf happen and why didn't they know there was going to be a blowout?
    • If things go well and drilling proceeds, is there any chance of opening up King Point Harbour - base camp, airport and deep sea harbour
    • Good to come to talk to people in the communities face to face about this matter
    • At the date of an application the land claim agreement kicks in (access and benefits agreements, duty to consult)
    • Does anyone know what the impacts will be long term - is it worth it to take a chance and gamble that nothing will go wrong?
    • If something goes wrong the impacts will go on and on even after a cleanup - is the juice worth the squeeze?
    • In the end companies leave and others come in to do the cleanup and the people are left to go down with the ship
    • Can't stop industry from making an application and there has to be economic growth but it is still taking a chance
    • With the land claim it is not like the '70's where backroom deals could be made If drilling happens the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit people should be the ones checking on things as environment and wildlife monitors
    • Companies that made a mess in the '70's are now coming back to apply for drilling - can they be made to clean up the past mess before getting approval (tanks buried on holes in the bush around McPherson and now with erosion coming up)?
    • Given the cost of spills it is surprising companies let things happen
    • Does the Canadian Coast Guard have ships to support a drill ship?

  3. Unique Arctic Environment:

    • Environment inland of the Beaufort Sea is very fragile and is where birds migrate every spring as well as being an area for fish migration - impact of a spill would be serious
    • Sensitivity of the land is very important

  4. Value of Resources:

    • Many people still live on the land and get their food from the land
    • If something happens and the fish and wildlife are lost it means more than money for the children and grandchildren - money cannot bring these things back

Concluding Remarks:

  • Specifics of where things have been left behind in the past to be sent to the NEB and the NEB will pass this on to industry
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