02/24/2012 11:57 EST | Updated 04/25/2012 05:12 EDT

Northern Gateway Tankers: First Nations Angry Over Transport Canada Decision

VANCOUVER - First Nations along British Columbia's north and central coast say it's unfathomable that Transport Canada approves the use of oil supertankers in the province's treacherous inlets and marine passages.

Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt said Friday that the department ruling ignores safety issues such as poor weather, human error, and the narrow, unforgiving waterways.

Transport Canada filed its report on Thursday to the regulatory panel weighing Enbridge Inc.'s $5.5-billion proposal to ship Alberta crude to the West Coast by pipeline and export the oil to Asian markets via supertankers loaded in Kitimat.

The report does not identify any regulatory concerns and says residual risks are present in any project.

Sterritt said that's nonsensical and shocking because a recent study by Coastal First Nations suggested a tanker spill could cost $23 billion, creating catastrophic economic, environmental and cultural damage.

On Friday, the Yinka Dene Alliance announced it has filed a complaint and sent a representative to the United Nations in Geneva to speak about the federal government's intention to go ahead with the proposed pipeline.

"The government has said repeatedly that they are planning to push Enbridge through despite the fact that our nations have said no," said Anne Sam.

She will be speaking about the complaint with the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

"The Harper government is ignoring us so we have no option but to escalate this issue to the global community."

Enbridge (TSX:ENB) maintains the pipeline will bring jobs and economic development to northern B.C., but opponents insist the risks are too high.

They have packed Joint Review Panel hearings underway across B.C. and Alberta through 2013.