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Two sides of pipeline expansion discussed at Langley Township council

Byron Smith’s family owns property near Fort Langley which could be on the new pipeline route. He wants Langley Township council to register as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline expansion. - Dan Ferguson/Langley Times
Byron Smith’s family owns property near Fort Langley which could be on the new pipeline route. He wants Langley Township council to register as an intervenor in the National Energy Board hearings on the pipeline expansion.
— image credit: Dan Ferguson/Langley Times

The proposed twinning of an oil pipeline through Langley brought both sides in the debate to Township council Monday night, with a Kinder Morgan representative saying the proposed route may be altered to avoid farmland in Fort Langley while a representative of residents opposed to the line pressed council to register as an intervenor at the National Energy Board hearings.

Greg Toth, senior project director for Kinder Morgan, said the company is considering two alternatives, both of which would avoid a stretch of farmland near the Salmon River by taking a a “jog” through the Redwoods Golf Course.

“We are in dialogue with the golf course,” Toth said.

He added the company would be required to file a supplemental application with the federal National Energy Board to shift the route.

Toth said the company does everything it can to prevent leaks and spills.

“A big part of our focus is keeping the oil in the pipe.” Toth said.

“I think we have a great safety record for an operating pipeline.”

The existing older pipeline that runs Alberta crude through Langley is in good shape and subject to around-the-clock maintenance and testing, he added.

“They bought very high quality pipe when they built the [original] pipeline.”

Toth said a pipeline poses less environmental risk than tankers on trains.

“Rail is an order of magnitude less safer.”

Trucks are even riskier, he said.

If the company win approval from the NEB, Toth said construction would take place over 2016 and 2017.

After Toth finished speaking, it was the turn of Byron Smith, who spoke for local residents opposed to the expansion.

He noted the pipeline, as it is currently proposed, would run through his family farm and the farms of his neighbours.

“We did not ask for this pipe nor do we want it,” Smith said.

Smith urged council to file for intervenor status at the National Energy Board hearings on the proposed pipeline before the Feb. 12 deadline.

Intervenors, if accepted by the NEB, can file written evidence and ask the applicant questions.

“You have a very short window to make a move on this,” Smith said.

“It would be negligent for you not to participate.”

Mayor Jack Froese said council takes the matter “very seriously” but its authority over a federal matter like a pipeline is limited.

“We’ll certainly do our best,” Froese said.

“We’ll be working with our staff on that [decision on an intervenor application].”

Councillor Kim Richter served notice she will be seeking a vote on applying for intervenor status at the next council meeting.

Intervenor applications are now being  accepted, with the final deadline to register noon on Feb. 12.

City councils in Vancouver and Burnaby have already said they will apply for intervenor status. Both are opposed to additional oil tankers using Vancouver harbour.

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