Safety of current pipeline questioned

New standards are not being met in our community

My letter is to bring attention to the public of the potential safety risk in the daily operation by Kinder Morgan of their existing 60-year-old Trans Mountain pipeline.

It should be noted that Enbridge is presently replacing it’s entire 45-year-old pipeline which runs from Alberta to Wisconsin. Why is Kinder Morgan allowed to continue to operate it’s antiquated 60-year-old pipeline through our community without complying to the present day, more stringent safety standards which apply to newer and future pipeline expansions? The National Energy Board regulates and Canadian Safety Association Code Z662 states that gate valves be installed where pipelines cross rivers and the pipe thickness should at least .050” or 1/2”. These new standards are not being met in our community.

In the recent past, Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain line has had several leaks and to their credit they have promptly patched them without any major ecological damage. Kinder Morgan engineer, Greg Toth, advises that Kinder Morgan has installed valves on either side of the Coquihalla Canyon, but have no intention of installing valves where their line crosses either side of the Coquihalla River up stream. At this point, the pipe is only 3/8” thick. Also, Kinder Morgan has no plans to replace or decommission the existing Trans Mountain pipeline.

If a complete rupture occurred near or at the river crossing there would be a potential of three barrels per second spilling into the Coquihalla River, and with an estimated emergency response time of 1.5 hours, that scenario spells disaster.

In my view, our present town council have been neglectful by not requesting Kinder Morgan upgrade their existing pipeline to today’s more stringent safety standards. Meanwhile, council speaks of establishing a “Legacy Fund” that may result if the expansion of the Trans Mountain line is approved with no mention of an actual dollar figure. Dream on!

With recent articles in the media, where Kinder Morgan suggests that “oil spills can have a positive effect,” one has to question their mentality and insensitivity towards the B.C. public. A recent headline “Fraser River would take up to five years to recover from pipeline oil spill” on it’s proposed expansion line should set off alarm bells, especially when you consider the so-called “dilbit,” or diluted bitumen, is at times transported through our community in the existing aging pipeline that was not designed to transport this more volatile product.

It should be noted that a majority of B.C. municipalities have rejected the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion proposal.

Let’s hope the incoming mayor and council have the fortitude to stand up and deal with Kinder Morgan safety issues with their present Trans Mountain line. Where do our incoming officials stand on this issue?

Dennis O’Keeffe,

Hope, B.C.