Pipe Up Network spokesman Michael Hale stand where the current Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses near the Chilliwack-Vedder River on July 24.

Pipe Up Network spokesman Michael Hale stand where the current Kinder Morgan pipeline crosses near the Chilliwack-Vedder River on July 24.

Top Stories 2012: Pipeline plan opposed

Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline surfaced in March sparking immediate fears about an oil spill

Kinder Morgan’s plan to twin the Trans Mountain pipeline surfaced in March sparking immediate fears about an oil spill — although the pipeline in Chilliwack had been operating since the early 1950s without an incident.

However, there was a pipeline ruptured by a construction crew in Burnaby in July, 2007 that spilled more than 1,500 barrels, and a 90,000-litre spill occurred in January, 2012, at a company tank farm on Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford.

And tar sands — also called diluted bitumen — pumped through an aging pipeline was the major concern of a new citizen’s group called the PIPE UP Network that organized opposition to the proposed pipeline.

Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield said pipelines “are proven to be the safest and most efficient means of transporting large volumes of crude oil and natural gas over land.”

“Our industrial safety record is first-class compared to any other way to move large quantities of energy … this is absolutely by far the safest and most environmentally sound way to do that,” she said.

But an investigation by the National Energy Board found it took more than four hours from the time the first alarm noted a possible leak at the Kinder Morgan tank farm on Sumas Mountain until the spill was discovered.

The NEB report stated “the leak was not detected as quickly as it should have been” which contributed to the large amount of oil spilled.

Pipeline opponents note that twinning the pipeline doubles the risk of a spill, which is especially concerning since the pipeline crosses the Fraser River and runs near an underground aquifer which supplies Chilliwack’s drinking water.

At a public info session in Chilliwack, one of a series of community consultations the company has promised to hold, Greg Toth, director of Trans Mountain’s expansion project, said a new “horizontal directional drill” will be used to bore under water ways like the Fraser River.

“We actually won’t do any in-stream work,” he said.

He said a “well-established safety program” called the “pipeline integrity management program” will ensure a quick response to a spill.

The $4.3-billion project must pass a number of environmental and socioeconomic assessments that will be submitted to the National Energy Board for approval.

“We have had spills along the pipeline,” Toth admitted, but only eight recordable spills (over 9.5 barrels) in 50 years, and only two spills in the last 30 years, one of those a “pinhole leak” detected by a local farmer.

But for Jonathon Wood, a 27-year-old Chilliwack resident who attended the info session, the risk of an oil spill was just too much.

“I’m against it because of the risk,” he said.

“I know they’re doing their best, but if something does happen,” he said, the potential ecological damage to water ways and water sources will “affect a lot of other industries and hurt our economy.”

And Chilliwack will see little of the economic benefits of twinning the pipeline, he said, while accepting double the risk of a spill.

If the expansion project is approved, after a two-year review by the NEB, construction of the pipeline could start in 2016 with a completion date after the summer of 2017.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Just Posted

Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Tuesday’s Lotto Max draw went unclaimed. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lotto Max jackpot goes unclaimed again

42 of the 64 Maxmillion prizes of $1 million were won, the majority were sold in Ontario

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., on April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

Industry expert says it won’t start to recover until international travellers can visit

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read