NEB orders public hearing to discuss pipeline routing and the Chilliwack aquifer

Trans Mountain insists the route is set but NEB has to approve realignment application

Local hand-wringing about the safety of Chilliwack’s aquifer from Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion project may have proven fruitful.

The National Energy Board (NEB) announced Thursday is has ordered a public hearing in the new year to consider local concerns over the proximity to the aquifer of a specific 1.8-kilometre stretch of the proposed route of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project (TMEX).

City hall, the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and others, including The WaterWealth Project, have long lobbied both Trans Mountain and the NEB to find a route for the expanded pipeline that does not threaten the city’s water supply.

In the city’s most recent comment on the subject, Mayor Sharon Gaetz asked the NEB to deny the company’s proposed realignment of the expanded pipeline to run within the existing right-of-way. Specifically, the city wants the NEB to force Trans Mountain to reassess running the pipeline along the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) or in the BC Hydro ROW, the latter of which is what the NEB approved.

READ: Kinder Morgan backs off plan to use 50 acres of ALR land near Chilliwack for work camp and storage yard

“The city does not accept the conclusion that the TCH route is inferior to the proposed realignment,” Gaetz wrote in the Aug. 14 letter.

She said the city operates eight wells within the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer, which supplies 95 per cent of the water for 80,000 people in Chilliwack. Four of those wells are “close enough to the existing pipeline route to be of concern.”

“The aquifer is a unique feature, with high quality of groundwater not available elsewhere in Chilliwack.”

These contacts with the NEB and the company come months after Trans Mountain essentially told residents the route is final.

Trans Mountain determined the best routing option is to follow its existing right-of-way. Other route locations are no longer under consideration,” according to a flyer hand-delivered in January to homes near the pipeline.

But the NEB has not approved the company’s application to realign through this stretch in Sardis into what is the current ROW of the existing pipeline.

On Aug. 31, the NEB announced a public hearing is planned in Chilliwack in early 2018 to review Trans Mountain’s proposal to relocate the 1.8-kilometre stretch of pipeline of the previously approved general corridor.

There are six other proposed route variances along the entire route, all of which are minor and will not trigger hearings.

“After hearing from the public that there were concerns about the proposed Chilliwack Realignment, the NEB has decided to hold an oral hearing to hear those concerns and receive evidence,” NEB Chair and CEO Peter Watson said Thursday. “This will ensure the NEB has all the information it needs to make a decision in the public interest.”

And while Trans Mountain continues to say the pipeline construction timeline is set to begin in September, NEB Chief Environment Officer Dr. Rob Steedman said Thursday the company has a long way to go.

“There are so many things that need to happen,” Steedman told Black Press in a telephone interview.

Trans Mountain needs approved routing, the company needs to satisfy the NEB’s 98 pre-construction conditions, and the company also needs to received various permits from all three levels of government.

“They are working on it and as you can imagine they are quite motivated.”

Steedman said the focus of the Chilliwack hearing in the new year will be the route and whether it could go along the BC Hydro ROW, which is just to the north of the current ROW on the stretch in question.

BC Hydro engineers, however, have said that with the required separation needed, the new ROW would be quite close to backyards of homes. The company concluded from this that the original ROW is best.

“It comes down to the technical facts and the potential impacts on landowners in there and the best way to thread the needle through those various concerns,” Steedman said.

Applications to participate in the hearing in Chilliwack in 2018 are available now on the NEB’s website. The deadline to apply to participate is Sept. 21. Funding is also available to hearing participants. More information on the Participant Funding Program and how to access it can be found on the NEB’s website.

READ: NEB says Trans Mountain meets conditions for Westridge Marine Terminal

Also announced Aug. 31 by the NEB was the detailed route hearings set to begin in November and December for locations in Alberta. Hearings for B.C. segments will begin in 2018.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

Excel Martial Arts raises more than $5,000 for family of Chilliwack man killed in workplace accident

By-donation fundraiser event helps wife, three children of 28-year-old Nathan Appleton of Chilliwack

Seven Days in Chilliwack for the week of Dec. 17

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Dec. 17 to 23

Chilliwack Lions Club has a new place to call home

After more than five years without a headquarters, Chilliwack Lions Club moves into new hall

Sardis Falcons top Heritage Woods in field lacrosse opener

The Falcons rallied from a halftime hole to take a big win on the road in Port Moody.

Chilliwack prolific offender charged in four alleged incidents in 12 days

Branden Tanner busted for alleged smash-and-grab Nov. 30, then incidents Dec. 3, Dec. 8 and Dec. 11

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

VIDEO: Craft growers will add to recreational market, cannabis producer says

Two B.C. men say their expertise in running small legal medical grow-ops a benefit to recreational market

World Sikh Organization demands Canada prove Sikh extremism is a threat

Sikh community says this is first time such extremism has been mentioned in federal terror-threat assessment

Risk of catching the flu increasing in B.C. this holiday season: BCCDC

Dr. Danuta Skowronski with the BC Centre for Disease Control says influenza will pick up during the holidays

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

Most Read