Warning marker for the Kinder Morgan pipeline running through a Sardis neighbourhood.

Warning marker for the Kinder Morgan pipeline running through a Sardis neighbourhood.

Twin pipeline ‘double the trouble’ says resident

Chilliwack homeowners react to news Kinder Morgan wants to twin the oil pipeline running beneath their backyards.

A pipeline carrying crude oil under residential properties in Chilliwack is no particular concern to homeowners contacted by The Progress last week.

But neither homeowner was aware of the proposed twinning of the pipeline by Kinder Morgan.

“I can’t see them twinning it through a residential area,” said one of the homeowners, who asked not to be identified.

“That’s double the trouble,” he said.

Construction of a second pipeline might cause him to lose fruit trees he had planted in the backyard, close to the pipeline right-of-way, he said.

The second homeowner said she never had any problems with Kinder Morgan during the six years she had lived on the property, although she needed company approval to build a deck so it would not infringe on the right-of-way.

About the possible twinning of the pipeline?

“Come back and see me then,” she said.

The pipeline has operated since 1950 without an incident in Chilliwack, and Kinder Morgan officials said it is the safest way to move large volumes of oil.

But opponents said laying another pipeline doubles the risk.

“It goes much deeper than just a buried pipeline,” said John Visser, an organizer of a public meeting Tuesday night at the UFV campus in downtown Chilliwack.

“What we should be concerned about as a community is not just doubling the pipeline, but that we are also enabling the export of crude oil” to non-domestic refineries.

“I’m suggesting the only trickle-down benefit is when they have to hire local people to clean up the spills,” he said. “That’s all we’re going to get.”

The Sumas Energy 2 natural gas-powered electric generation plant was turned down by the National Energy Board on the basis that the local communities bore all the risk and none of the benefits, he said.

On Jan. 24 the pipeline ruptured at Kinder Morgan’s Sumas facility in Abbotsford, spilling about 110,000 litres of oil.

In July, 2007, a construction crew in Burnaby ruptured the pipeline and about 234,000 litres of oil shot into the air for about 25 minutes, covering some nearby homes and entering the waters of Burrard Inlet.

Kinder Morgan spokesperson Lexa Hobenshield said the company announced its proposed expansion on Feb. 21 after getting “positive commercial response,” but the scope of the project won’t be known until later this spring.

She said the company will hold “open and thorough” consultations with all communities along the pipeline’s route

“We consider the input from local community interests to be critical to our planning,” she said, and it could be up to two years before the company files an application with the NEB.

The public meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in room A203 of the UFV campus in downtown Chilliwack.