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‘Stop Kinder pipeline project’

NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau, at the meeting, raised the issue of earthquakes. - Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS
NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau, at the meeting, raised the issue of earthquakes.
— image credit: Phil Melnychuk/THE NEWS

People power in the Fraser Valley stopped the Sumas 2 power plant in its tracks a decade ago.

People can do the same thing to the twinning of Kinder Morgan Canada’s pipeline in B.C., Pitt Meadows resident Rob Dramer said at a town hall meeting Wednesday.

And people may have reached the point where they’re not going to put up with such projects anymore. This could be a turning point when people say “No” to big oil and gas, added Bob D’Eith, a Maple Ridge lawyer seeking the NDP nomination for Maple Ridge-Mission.

About 75 people showed up at Golden Ears United Church as the Fraser Valley Pipeline Watch Group took issue with Kinder Morgan’s plans to twin its oil pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby.

The pipeline will carry heavier oils than the existing pipeline and increase capacity to 750,000 barrels a day from 300,000.

“This pipeline is 100 metres from where I live, so it’s pretty personal to me,” said Abbotsford resident Lynn Perrin.

A minor oil spill occurred in the Kinder Morgan facility in Abbotsford in January.

Perrin said the new pipeline would carry diluted bitumen and that the present pipeline is already exporting part of its capacity to China.

Chief Rueben George, with the Tsleil-Waututh band in North Vancouver, said his band and the Squamish band both signed the Save The Fraser Declaration opposing the Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline across northern B.C.

“Our lands are sacred and our connection to these lands are sacred,” he said.

“Look what happened in New York. Things are changing.”

The issue isn’t a First Nations or an environmental problem,  he added. “It’s all of our problem.”

Although the NDP hasn’t taken an official position on the Kinder Morgan line, it opposes the Enbridge Northern Gateway.

D’Eith said later that any economic benefit is “vastly outweighed by the potentially disastrous environmental damage that may be caused by the pipelines.

“If we stop these pipelines, we will be sending a clear message to the world that it is time to move towards clean, renewable energy sources.”

The evening was composed of a panel of five speakers, all of whom criticized the Kinder Morgan pipeline.

Michael Hale, with Pipe Up Network, a Chilliwack based group, said he was “unbelievably shocked” when he heard that bitumen oil from oil sands was running beneath his property.

The existing pipeline currently runs through Walnut Grove in Langley, an area that has developed heavily since the pipeline was built in 1953, he pointed out.

He predicted that exporting oil will cause inflation and said B.C. needs an energy strategy.

“With government support, Canada could be a leader in clean energy.”

For Sven Biggs, with Tanker Free B.C., it’s “erroneous” to call the project a twinning of the pipeline because capacity will more than double to 750,000 barrels a day, and could even reach 1.9 million barrels.

“The new pipeline that they’re proposing will be entirely for export.”

Biggs said the new pipeline will carry diluted bitumen, dilbit, which he said causes more pipeline breaks than conventional oil. If approved, the monthly number of tankers loading at the Westridge Marine Terminal will increase from eight to 28.

Kinder Morgan didn’t respond to requests for clarification.

“Imagine a similar situation to what happened in the Kalamazoo,” Biggs said.

According to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board report into the 2010 Enbridge International incident in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, the pipeline break was the result of multiple small corrosion-fatigue cracks that grew, creating a break measuring more than two metres.

“This investigation identified a complete breakdown of safety at Enbridge. Their employees performed like Keystone Kops and failed to recognize their pipeline had ruptured and continued to pump crude into the environment,” said transportation board chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman.

“Despite multiple alarms and a loss of pressure in the pipeline, for more than 17 hours and through three shifts, they failed to follow their own shutdown procedures.”

Following the first alarm, Enbridge controllers restarted the line twice, pumping an additional 683,000 gallons of crude oil, or 81 per cent of the total spilled, through the ruptured pipeline, the U.S. report said.

Cleanup is still ongoing two years later.

The B.C. pipeline crosses the Fraser River west of Pitt Meadows.

“We know we have one of the most important salmon rivers in the world. This the kind of threat that we’re facing,” Biggs said.

“Together, I believe we can stop this pipeline.”

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows NDP candidate Elizabeth Rosenau raised the issue of earthquake risks.

According to Kinder Morgan’s website, there is a plan in place, which includes regular inspections of the route.

According to Kinder Morgan, “While river erosion and, to a lesser extent, landsliding are relatively common, earthquake triggered geohazards, by contrast, are episodic and relatively less frequent.”

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