Local opposition to pipeline expansion

Kinder Morgan wants to twin the pipeline, expanding capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000.

The existing Trans Mountain pipeline runs on an east to west axis through Abbotsford

Kinder Morgan, the company that owns the Trans Mountain pipeline that carries oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast and Washington state through Abbotsford, wants to twin the line, expanding capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000.

Local environmentalists say allowing that to happen is essentially being complicit in creating more greenhouse gasses and global warming. Opponents also claim twinning carries the threat of future oil spills like those that have taken place in Abbotsford, with the potential to be greater environmental disasters.

Kinder Morgan maintains the pipeline is the safest way to transport the fossil fuels that are used by virtually everyone in the Lower Mainland on a daily basis. Pending approval, the company would begin construction in 2016, and have its new line operational by 2017.

Local environmentalist John Vissers is opposed to the pipeline expansion. He is involved with organizations such as the Abbotsford Mission Nature Club and the city’s environmental advisory committee, which are among the local groups drafting responses to the proposed pipeline expansion.

Vissers took part in a public meeting about the pipeline at UFV earlier this month, and said an organization is building to challenge the pipeline expansion.

“Once people are aware of the scope of this project, there is concern,” he said.

For example, Kinder Morgan may need to purchase property for the pipeline right-of-way, and may have the legal right to expropriate land.

“Clearly it’s going to impact our valley in a significant way,” he said.

He said expansions to the Sumas Mountain Tank Farm and Pumping Station could impact nearby residents.

While the industrial facilities may have been well placed when the pipeline first went into operation in 1953, Vissers said Abbotsford’s growth and the increasing residential development on Sumas Mountain makes it a poor place for industry.

“Do we want to jeopardize the only area where we can grow the city?” he asked.

He has heard Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson speaking against the pipeline because of increased oil tanker traffic at the port of Vancouver. Visser believes local politicians should be just as opposed.

“In the harbour they have a tanker problem – on our mountain we have a tank problem.”

Vissers calls the crude from the Alberta tar sands “the dirtiest oil on the planet,” and says by not taking the opportunity to oppose the pipeline he would be endorsing that oil being used to contribute to global warming.

Regarding Alberta oil being exported internationally out of the Port of Vancouver, “Vancouver is the gateway,” he said. “In the Fraser Valley what are we? We are just the doormat.”

Hank Roos, president of the Abbotsford-Matsqui Nature Club, said his group has already voiced its opposition to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, which runs almost 1,200 km from Edmonton to Kitimat.

It is now formulating a response to the Kinder Morgan expansion. Roos believes that with an existing pipeline already in place, an expansion of capacity will receive government approval more easily. The group’s immediate concern is the potential for spills in watersheds and salmon habitat along the route.

“The valuable natural assets we all own as Canadians and British Columbians are at risk,” Roos said.

Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield points out the Trans Mountain pipeline has been transporting petroleum products from Alberta and Northern B.C. since 1953, including 90 per cent of the gasoline used in the Lower Mainland and B.C. Interior. She calls it a reliable and economical way to transport large volumes of crude oil and natural gas – better than truck or rail.

“This is absolutely by far the safest and most environmentally sound way to do that.”

At its current capacity of 300,000 barrel per day, the Trans Mountain pipeline is equivalent to one 36,000-litre tanker truck travelling between Edmonton and Burnaby every minute over the course of 24 hours – or more than 1,400 tanker trucks per day.

There have been two oil spill incidents in Abbotsford.

In 2005, below the Sumas Terminal, landfill deposited by a third party next to to the right of way caused the pipeline to move and release oil. The spill was cleaned up and the area remediated, Hobenshield said.

On Jan. 24 this year, oil was released from a storage tank into a containment area at the site. There was a strong smell of oil in the area, and some residents complained of nausea and headaches. The spill was cleaned up the same day, Hobenshield said.

In both cases, Kinder Morgan took steps aimed at ensuring these incidents do not occur in the future, she said.

She said there are definite benefits for the city of Abbotsford. Currently, Kinder Morgan pays the city $2 million per year in municipal taxes, and this would rise to $2.5 million with the expansion.

As part of Kinder Morgan’s process leading up to a regulatory application, the company will be completing socio-economic studies, and share the results publicly. The information will be part of its facilities application. Part of its 18- to 24-month consultation process will be determining what the specific interests are of communities along the proposed pipeline route.

Look for further coverage of this issue in upcoming editions of The News and online at abbynews.com

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Build your own dinosaur zoo with animatronic auction in Langley

Dozens of robot dinosaurs and fossils are going on the auction block next month

Man running across Canada removing litter stops to help clean up Aldergrove

COVID-19 has not stopped litter from piling up in Aldergrove’s downtown core

Multiple accidents slowing westbound Highway 1 traffic

3 accidents in Langley, Abbotsford within 30 minutes

Langley Eats Local challenge promotes homegrown foods and products this summer for 11th year

Residents encouraged to participate in farm gate passport program in a bid to buy local

Centenarian and long time Langley resident Bill Cutress passes away

Second World War veteran celebrated milestone birthday in May with help from Aldergrove legion

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Surrey officer-impersonation scam continues ‘almost daily’

Police reiterate warning that demands for Bitcoin in exchange for waived charges are fraudulent

Vancouver double homicide leads to arrest in Harrison Hot Springs Wednesday

VPD and RCMP tracked dumped vehicle connected to killings to Chilliwack

Indigenous leader Ed John pleads not guilty to historical sex charges

Ed John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client

Most Read