Abbotsford mayor calls for more pipeline information

Bruce Banman does not oppose a proposal to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline – at least not yet.

The Kinder Morgan tank farm in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January.

The Kinder Morgan tank farm in Abbotsford was the site of an oil spill in January.

Bruce Banman does not oppose a proposal to expand the Trans Mountain Pipeline – at least not yet.

Abbotsford’s mayor said he needs more information before judging the issue at all.

“I’m not going to draw a line in the sand just yet.”

What he does want is a guarantee that the city will have full consultation on the process.

“It’s fact-gathering time.”

The Trans Mountain Pipeline, built in 1952 and owned and operated by Kinder Morgan since 2005, carries tar sands crude oil from Edmonton to Greater Vancouver, and runs through communities that include Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

The company has proposed to increase the capacity of the pipeline – from 300,000 to 850,000 barrels a day – which would result in oil tankers passing through Burrard Inlet virtually daily to carry oil to destinations in Asia or the U.S.

While the mayors of both Vancouver and Burnaby have opposed the expansion, Banman said it’s not sensible to make a decision without getting all the facts.

“It’s coming through our environment. We need to know what the downside is, what the risks are and what the benefits are.”

Banman said he’s confident Kinder Morgan will comply, considering it already has to consult with First Nations groups, the National Energy Board and the province.

“We’ve had maybe a little dry run of what potentially can go wrong with their small leak that they had,” said Banman.

On Jan. 24, 2012, approximately 110,000 litres of oil spilled out at the Kinder Morgan tank farm in Abbotsford. While contained to the company’s property, homeowners in the vicinity experienced some physical symptoms such as headaches and nausea, and have expressed concerns that a larger spill could occur.

Banman said that’s an example of why Kinder Morgan has to deal openly with the city regarding any risks.

“I’m sure they want to be good neighbours and do that. I think you’ll find that the National Energy Board will insist that they are.”

Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross has already stated she wants the city to ask for consultation on the expansion process and is encouraged by Banman’s views.

“I totally agree with that.”

Ross wants something put “formally on record,” stating the city’s request, and she plans to make an official proposal at a future council meeting.

“We want to be a part of the process,” she said.

While some communities are concerned about their waterways, Ross said Abbotsford has to be concerned about the pipeline and how it could impact “sensitive habitat” on Sumas Mountain.