U.S. agency has concerns about B.c. pipeline plans, oil sands products

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SEATTLE – Canada’s pipeline plans are a hot topic among scientists and conservation groups in Washington state this week.

More than 1,200 marine scientists, tribal leaders and policy makers from both sides of the border are gathering this week at Western Washington University for the annual Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference.

Several presentations are taking a close look at Enbridge’s (TSX:ENB) Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline proposals.

Gary Shigenaka, a marine biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s emergency response division, says the U.S. organization has many questions about the pipelines and the product that flows through them.

He says the U.S. agency has questions about the “peanut-butter-like” bitumen that comes from the Alberta oil sands and the toxicity of the diluent it’s mixed with that allows it to flow through pipes.

Shigenaka says Washington state also has several oil proposals of its own that add to the risks in the Salish Sea, including increased oil traffic from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota.

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