Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion Concerns

In December 2012, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kamloops took the unusual step (for a faith group) of publicly opposing the building of the Northern Gateway pipeline, and expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. More recently, in June 2013, I, as a member of the fellowship’s Social and Environmental Action committee, attended the Kinder Morgan Open House.

I spoke to one of the officials at length about our concerns – the most important being that Canada should not be exporting its fossil fuel resources in the absence of a comprehensive federal carbon dioxide reduction plan, and the second being the environmental risk of increased tanker traffic in Burrard Inlet.

When asked about the increase in tanker traffic, the official told me that presently Kinder Morgan sends approximately 1 tanker a week through Burrard Inlet and that the expanded pipeline would mean 7 tankers would be hauling diluted bitumen through the Inlet each week. I have since read that in 2011, 32 crude oil tanker visits were made to these narrow waters. In 2016, it is estimated there will be 360 visits (Burnaby News Leader, April 12, 2012)

In response to our concern about environmental risk, he said that the loaded tankers must be accompanied by three tugs through the Second Narrows and under the Lions Gate Bridge to English Bay. After that, tankers proceed unaccompanied through the Strait of Georgia to Saturna Island, where they’re escorted by tugs through the Gulf Islands to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Every tanker will have 2 pilots on board through the narrow waters to reduce risk.

There were a number of Google Earth maps available showing the path of the proposed expanded pipeline. Along the highway through Blackpool south of Clearwater, the pipeline skirts a large wetland, and this area is flagged for environmental monitoring. The pipeline will also be re-routed to avoid North Thompson Provincial Park.

With regard to the proximity of the present pipeline to the proposed Ajax pit (under the east end of Jacko Lake) , he showed me the alternate route, which I pointed out would run beneath the proposed North waste rock dump. He said that KGHM Ajax still has to finalize where all the facilities will be located, and the KM pipeline will be relocated around those.

Overall I felt the official was very knowledgeable and willing to answer all my questions in a forthright manner. I was pleased with the amount of information that was available, especially the maps.

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