Stop Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, say panelists

Citizens attending a public information meeting in Abbotsford were encouraged to band together to stop the Kinder Morgan plan.

(From left) Mary Forstbauer

(From left) Mary Forstbauer

Panelists at an information meeting about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion expressed concern about what they say has been a lack of public consultation on the issue.

They encouraged those attending the meeting Wednesday night at University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford to band together to stop the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

“The only way it’s going to stop is by the power of the people. The corporations have big pockets. They are running the show,” said Eddie Gardner, elder and member of the Skwah First Nation of Chilliwack.

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 many more oil tankers passing through Burrard Inlet to carry oil to destinations in Asia or the U.S.

Speakers at the meeting in Abbotsford said this expanded capacity increases the risk of spills and pipeline ruptures, leading to detrimental impacts on human health and the environment.

Abbotsford’s John Vissers, a board member with Zero Waste BC and Resilient Communities Canada, referenced the spill in January of this year at Kinder Morgan’s tank farm on Sumas Mountain.

Although the 110,000-litre spill was contained to the Kinder Morgan property, residents in the nearby Auguston neighbourhood experienced nausea and headaches from the toxic fumes, he said.

“These people thought their lives were in danger,” Vissers said.

He said Kinder Morgan did not respond to residents’ concerns in a timely or thorough manner, and citizens should demand that public hearings be held in each community impacted by the planned pipeline expansion.

Adriane Carr, a Vancouver city councillor and former leader of the Green Party, encouraged citizens to lobby their municipal politicians to push for consultation on the issue.

Vancouver council recently passed Carr’s motion that a letter be sent to Kinder Morgan, requesting that the company consult with the city about any plans and any application it makes to the National Energy Board.

Abbotsford Coun. Patricia Ross, speaking to The News, said she plans to present the same motion to Abbotsford council.

Vissers said the public has no reason to support the expansion.

“This is the plan of industrialists who come through and wipe their boots, while they are collecting their profits.”

Other panelists at the meeting were Ben West of the Wilderness Committee; Mary Forstbauer, president of the Organic Growers Association of B.C.; and Rueben George, Sundance chief and member of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in North Vancouver.

Vissers said anyone with questions or who wants to be involved in the opposition to the pipeline is welcome to call him at 604-308-0520 or email john.vissers@gmail.com.