LETTER: Pipeline must be routed away from Chilliwack drinking water source

A spill would have environmental, health consequences, says letter writer

I’m writing as a concerned citizen of Chilliwack regarding twinning the pipeline route. I want to be clear that I am not against the pipeline, just the route over Chilliwack’s main water source and aquifer. I believe the elected officials of the City of Chilliwack have a responsibility to all the residents who live here and depend on clean, drinkable water. Keeping our main water source safe should be a top priority.

I understand that constructing another pipeline next to the existing one would be easiest and would allow engineers to observe the 66-year-old pipeline firsthand and allow for repairs. At the same time, this pipeline was built long ago when Chilliwack was a much different place. I strongly believe that the pipeline route must be changed. This is a public safety issue.

There is an extreme safety difference between the current pipeline and the products it carries, and the new pipeline and the diluted bitumen it will be carrying. Dilbit is not crude oil; it is bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands mixed with hydrocarbons such as propane, butane, pentane or other hydrocarbons with additional carbon atoms. This mixture is what allows the bitumen to flow through the pipeline. It may also contain hydrogen sulphide, methyl and ethyl, as well as benzene, toluene and ethylbenzene. This combination is hazardous, extremely flammable and carcinogenic. Our first responders are not prepared for this type of spill, and research is still being done on how to clean up such a disaster and determine possible environmental and health consequences.

In many other communities, the twinning pipeline route is being changed to avoid developed and populated areas. This needs to happen in Chilliwack. The pipeline must be routed away from the city’s drinking water source, residential areas and schools to protect residents and our main water supply.

T.L. Kline

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