Haida question Northern Gateway experts on impacts of oil spill

Associated Press

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - A federal review panel is hearing an oil spill in the ocean off B.C.'s Haida Gwaii islands would have many adverse effects on marine plants and mammals.

But a panel of Northern Gateway experts says that based on studies in the aftermath of other large oil spills around the world, those effects will not be permanent or catastrophic.

Lawyers for the Council of the Haida Nation are questioning the expert panel about the impacts a marine spill would have on things like the razor clams they harvest commercially and the seaweed they dry and eat as a snack.

Al Maki, who was the chief scientist for Exxon at the time of that company's spill near Valdez, Alaska, says studies in the years after the 1989 disaster found the oil dispersed and biodegraded.

The panel is examining the company's marine oil spill response plan at hearings this week in Prince Rupert.

Trevor Russ, vice-president of the Haida Nation, says the islands off the B.C. coast will bear the brunt of an oil spill, and the council has a mandate from members to do whatever it takes to stop the pipeline.

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