Damage from oil spill could be catastrophic for Hope

Kinder Morgan is gambling with our present and future supply of drinking and recreational water

This letter is in regard to the two recent oil spill incidents that occurred last month on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline near Merritt and Hope.

The most recent oil leak on June 27 was sparsely covered by CTV News. A reporter mentioned the leak was east of Hope, close to the Coquihalla River but that no oil had reached the banks of the river. Yes, we dodged the bullet that time. I’d say Kinder Morgan is gambling with our present and future supply of drinking and recreational water. These recent incidents should be more than a warning call to our elected officials to invite a town hall meeting to specifically discuss what action should be taken to force Kinder Morgan to upgrade its existing 60-year-old pipeline to comply with today’s more stringent safety standards set by the National Energy Board. For example, this would require the doubling of pipelines to 1/2” thick where it crosses over or under the Coquihalla River and installing shut-off valves on each side of the river along with the containment tanks.

This would ensure that if a major spill occurs it would not flow into the Coquihalla River and make its way to the Fraser River.

Officials have established a response time of one hour to have emergency and cleanup crews on the spill site. When you consider that there could be up to three barrels of oil per second flowing through the existing pipeline at twice the pressure of a fire hose and, if a major rupture occurred, it equates to 120 gallons per second or 454 litres per second and multiplied by 60 seconds equals 24,254 litres per minute. Multiply that again by 60 minutes and you have 1,622,547 litres of oil entering the land and water in just one hour.

Considering the nearest shut-off valve may be five miles up stream from the Coquihalla River, this equates to a potential 6,600 barrels of unrestricted kilo racing down towards the Coquihalla River. The damage to the environment and the economic loss to the community and tourist industry would be catastrophic!

Dennis O’Keeffe,