Burnaby mayor irritated by Kinder Morgan pipeline exposure
Burnaby’s mayor says a Kinder Morgan pipeline incident that drew citizen concern over the weekend highlights the dangers of operating high pressure oil pipelines in urban areas.
“These are the sorts of incidents that occur when pipelines are put near urban infrastructure,” said Mayor Derek Corrigan, “which is exactly why we are fighting so hard to ensure that Kinder Morgan’s proposed new pipeline never gets built in Burnaby."
The city’s engineering department said Monday its contractor was doing work on a culvert on Burnaby Mountain when the slope became unstable on Friday, following a rain event. That caused concern about an underlying Kinder Morgan petroleum pipeline.
The company was then brought in to further expose its own pipeline, and support it with crane cables, just in case more of the mountain came sliding down, said city engineer James Lota.
Some citizens worried the petroleum line was still flowing fuels at this point. Kinder Morgan did not answer a question about whether that was true.
The mayor said the Burnaby contractors were doing routine maintenance of a city culvert.
"These pipelines pose a continuing threat in urban neighbourhoods with no concurrent benefits for the people accepting the risks. It is particularly risky to be putting these lines through slopes vulnerable to weather events, which is exactly the problem with going through Burnaby Mountain," said Mayor Corrigan.
“In addition, Kinder Morgan expects us to constantly be anticipating any problems that might be caused to their lines, without any proper mapping and with all of the variables – including something as simple as heavy rainfall – that could lead to movement of the soil and pipeline. Local taxpayers bear that expense. And even with our best efforts, nature can be unpredictable,” he added.
Kinder Morgan and the city have been at loggerheads about the company's proposed $5.4-billion dollar pipeline for more than a year. The mayor, his council and fire department have long opposed the Edmonton-to-Burnaby pipeline expansion over safety concerns.
Meanwhile, the National Energy Board said they are not concerned by the exposed pipeline episode.
"The work at the site was planned, and by all reports, followed expected protocols and procedures. I understand Trans Mountain was onsite with the City of Burnaby as a proactive precautionary measure while the city completed its work around this portion of pipeline,” wrote spokesperson Tara O’Donovan in Calgary.
Some nearby citizens reported smelling petroleum in recent days. Kinder Morgan said they were not aware of that.
"There is no threat to the integrity of the pipeline and we have not received any odour complaints. The safety of the public and protection of the environment is always our top priority. We continue to monitor conditions and work with the City of Burnaby as they resolve the slope stability issues," wrote spokesperson Ali Hounsell.
The National Energy Board will start hearing oral presentations from citizen intervenors about the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion January 18-29 at a Burnaby casino and conference centre.
The incoming Trudeau federal government has pledged to overhaul Canada's process for the environmental review of pipelines.