The existing route of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Chilliwack runs through Watson elementary’s schoolyard and residential backyards. The NEB approved the company’s request to put the expansion in the same right-of-way. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

City of Chilliwack ‘disappointed’ with NEB approval of Trans Mountain pipeline route

Proximity to municipality’s drinking water supply also ‘deeply disappointing’ to WaterWealth Project

The City of Chilliwack is not happy with the National Energy Board’s (NEB) decision announced on Thursday to allow the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion realignment closer to the city’s drinking water wells.

“I was disappointed to learn of the National Energy Board’s decision to approve the Kinder Morgan route realignment in Chilliwack, especially given the probability that oil from a leak could make its way to our water wells,” Mayor Sharon Gaetz said in a city hall press release issued Friday. “We presented compelling evidence at the National Energy Board hearing in January as an intervenor and will continue to make our case at every opportunity, including the detailed route hearings in September.”

Whether or not the pipeline will ever go ahead at all remains an open question as the provincial government is strongly opposed, and Kinder Morgan announced on the weekend it was suspending non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project.

• READ MORE: B.C., Alberta clash as Kinder Morgan suspends Trans Mountain work

Nevertheless, the city and other intervenors in the realignment application are unimpressed with the NEB’s decision to run the new pipeline in the same right-of-way in the same residential Chilliwack backyards as the existing pipeline.

• READ MORE: City of Chilliwack strongly opposed to oil pipeline near aquifer

The application for realignment for the 1.8-kilometre stretch was required because the NEB approved the pipeline project, but approved a route in the BC Hydro right-of-way to the north of the existing pipeline, which runs through Watson elementary’s school yards and dozens of homes in the Roseberry/Montcalm area and near Canterbury Road.

The decision comes after four days of oral hearings Jan. 15 to 18 in Chilliwack where the NEB panel heard from intervenors including the S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance, the City of Chilliwack and the WaterWealth Project.

The city’s main concern has been protection of the Sardis-Vedder aquifer in the event of an oil spill. The city presented evidence showing the pipeline reroute is in the city’s well capture zone, meaning leaks and spills could flow into the wells within 126 days of an initial leak.

“Despite knowing this, Kinder Morgan has not supplied adequate information about the steps they will take to ensure the City’s drinking water will remain safe and clean.”

The WaterWealth Project was also an intervenor at the NEB hearing in January. Program director Ian Stephen said he was “deeply disappointed” with the decision.

“This NEB decision puts supposed public interest ahead of public safety.” Stephen said. “Not only does this alignment increase risks to City of Chilliwack wells, it also runs between rows of homes where access for construction and future maintenance is exceptionally difficult and disruptive, and where if there is ever a pipeline emergency Kinder Morgan admitted that ‘permanent structures’ may have to be removed.”

The S’ólh Téméxw Stewardship Alliance did not issue a statement after the NEB decision, but during the hearing a lawyer for the Sto:lo expressed concern they did not receive enough information from Kinder Morgan to evaluate realignment.

The NEB sided with Trans Mountain saying the benefits and expected burdens of the realignment were weighed, and the realignment is “in the public interest and is consistent with the requirements of the NEB Act.”

Some of the expected burdens of putting the new pipeline in the existing right-of-way, according to the NEB, include: “one additional road crossing and 20 additional utility crossings; slightly higher probability that oil from a pipeline leak or spill that makes its way to the groundwater would then make its way to the City water wells; and construction would take place close to existing residential housing.”

The expected benefits of the realignment decided upon by the NEB, include most importantly the avoidance of the BC Hydro infrastructure, something BC Hydro said was critical. Other benefits include: a proposed fibre-optic leak detection system that could also detect ground disturbances for the existing pipeline given the proximity; the pipeline will be 500 metres shorter in length; and staying in the existing right-of-way “leverages the knowledge and experience of landowners already familiar with living in proximity to an existing pipeline.”

The NEB also noted that no residents along the realignment route expressed objections with the board.

• READ MORE: Pipeline routing through Chilliwack subject of NEB hearing Monday

• READ MORE: Pipeline company questioned about Chilliwack aquifer protection at NEB hearing


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The NEB held a hearing in Chilliwack in early 2018 to talk about Trans Mountain’s proposal to realign the oil pipeline project from the BC Hydro right-of-way (in green) to the existing right-of-way. The NEB approved the realignment in a decision released April 5.

NEB hearing Jan. 15 in Chilliwack into Kinder Morgan’s application to change approved routing for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

Santa joins kids for Christmas in the Forest in Chilliwack

Annual holiday party and fundraiser helps students at Leap For Joy Open Air Learning

Mike McCardell in town for book-signing at Coles in Chilliwack

His newest book, Shoelaces Are Hard: And Other Thoughtful Scribbles, is his 12th to date

Photos: The Contenders rock the Blue Moose Coffee Shop Friday

Valdy and Gary Fjellgaard came together as (The) Contenders to play music… Continue reading

Birds from Raptors Ridge pay a visit to Chilliwack

Up-close viewings, nature walks, and youth owl classes all part of visits this month to Chilliwack

Ask the Coach: Chilliwack Chiefs bench boss Brian Maloney talks about referees

Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly column where Brian Maloney answers questions from the fans

VIDEO: Highway overpass protest against United Nations ‘compact’ on immigration

Demonstrators say Canada will have less control over who is allowed in the country

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

1 of 2 B.C. men wanted in connection to home invasion, explosives in custody

Cameron Cole is charged with two counts of possessing an improvised explosive device

Judge rules private landowners can’t block public access to B.C. lake

The Nicola Valley ranch’s position was that it owned Stoney Lake and Minnie Lake

Most Read