B.C.'s environment minister says the company behind the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline has not yet instilled confidence in the provincial government that the project will be safe.
Terry Lake said Enbridge is making lots of promises about how it would mitigate environmental risks, but is so far short on providing solid evidence and action.
Lake made his comments in a news release Tuesday after the province wrapped its cross-examination in Prince George, B.C., at environmental assessment hearings into the line that would carry oil from Alberta to a port on B.C.'s northwest coast.
Lake said lawyers learned Enbridge hasn't yet determined how accessible parts of the pipeline would be in the event of a spill, and that it won't have a spill response plan finalized until six months before operations begin.
He said the province's questions are aimed at figuring out whether the pipeline meets five conditions the government decided must be met before it considers giving approval to the project.
But Enbridge said in a statement that the company is operating under an approval framework that requires additional details as a project advances through various stages.
"This allows us to continue to provide opportunity for aboriginal and community engagement, and to refine and conduct exercises for emergency preparedness and response before operations commence," the company said.
"Northern Gateway makes no apology for this commitment, a commitment that respects the environment and natural habitat."
B.C. lawyers will cross-examine Enbridge next in Prince Rupert, B.C., in late November, when the joint review panel discusses marine spill prevention and the proposed marine terminal.