By Holly Brodhagen
I have been hearing that phrase a lot especially in the context of the proposed oil sand pipeline.
No one wants to have a pipeline of hazardous chemicals running through their backyard, close to their water supply or near environmentally-precious areas. Although I hate to say it, I have to wonder, “then whose backyard should it run through?”
After the Lac-Megantic train derailment, the British Petroleum oil spill and many other disasters that have harmed the environment or people, there is always an uproar about the dangers inherent in having any resources explored, processed and shipped. People begin to wonder what is travelling through their town.
What if something happened? Who is responsible and should we stop this from happening? The fact is that no one wants to have an oil rig set up off their coastline, or have a refinery on the outskirts of town or to know that dangerous chemicals are being shipped through their communities.
Who wants a municipal dump in their backyard? Who wants to live on a trucking route used to transport nuclear waste to a storage facility? Who wants to live within a 100 kilometres of that storage facility?
I personally have an issue with running any dangerous substance through any populated area whether it is by train, truck or pipe.
Unfortunately, that does not leave many options since most railways run through or beside towns, most trucks follow highways built to connect towns and most pipelines have to lead to a facility where people can use the products being shipped. It would be easy to say, well stop shipping it, but then what?
Are you willing to stop driving your vehicle if there is no gas? Are you willing to find a local way to heat your house if you can’t depend on natural gas?
Are you willing to stop using electricity generated in a nuclear power plant so there is no waste to dispose of?
I can bet the answer is no. Can you come up with an alternative that means that no person, place or animal is at risk?
How can you fight to not have something come near your town when it means sending it somewhere else? Is it okay if it passes through a town of 100 people rather then a town of 100,000? These are hard questions because the reality is that we are willing to condemn companies and demand that they go elsewhere but then we demand to have access to their products.
We might not want the pipeline to run through our backyards but we need to have access to those resources.
I have no answer. I am right up there with everyone else. I don’t want my children to be at risk by living along a shipping line for dangerous chemicals and yet I drive a vehicle and use everyday products that rely on those chemicals to be made.
I can demand that companies have every possible scenario of a disaster worked out and every protection put in place to keep it from happening but history has shown that accidents still happen.
So what should we do?
Holly Brodhagen is a citizen of Dokis First Nation and holds a masters degree in Social Work.